STS9: 11/5/2016

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I bought tickets to this concert intending to take my daughter. I had seen STS9 (short for Sound Tribe Sector 9) some years back at MoogFest, and they were pretty cool. They had a great light show, so I figured it would be a fun father/daughter thing to go to see them together.

Alas, my daughter got sick and was not up for going to the show. I called around to see if anyone wanted the extra ticket, and my friend Arwen jumped on the opportunity, saying she was planning to buy a ticket at the box office anyway. This made me happy, because Arwen is a good friend who I enjoy going to concerts with, and she had given me a free ticket to a concert not too long ago, so I felt good about being able to reciprocate the favor.

I met Arwen outside the US Cellular Center, along with two of her friends, Rich and Laurie. Since it was a general admission show, we were able to go in and get seats together. We were right up front and center, so we were pretty psyched about it.

The show started late, after 9:00, and the first thing that struck me was the overwhelmingly loud bass. It felt like I was getting punched in the chest. The rest of the band sounded great, and the light show was phenomenal, but that damn bass! I’m not one who is prone to complain about music being too loud, but this was one of those instances where it was just too much.

During the first set, someone inflated a few balloons and sent them into the air to be tapped around. I like balloons. They add to a festive feeling at a concert, and they don’t hurt if one hits you in the head, unlike a Frisbee. Anyway, one of the balloons reached a person in the row behind me, and he angrily grabbed the balloon and popped it. I then heard him ranting to his friend about how the band has a multi-million-dollar light show and these fucking balloons are ruining it. I was kind of taken aback by this comment,  and when I shared it with Arwen, she astutely said that if the light show is a multi-million-dollar show, then a couple balloons should not affect it.

It was around midnight when the second set started, and by that time, we were all feeling a tired. I for one felt like I had my fill. There is only so much instrumental electronic music that I can handle. So when the group said they were ready to go, I happily accompanied them out early. I couldn’t imagine that there was anything else that I would be missing, just more lights and loud bass.

Glad I went to see them as a headliner, but don’t think I will be seeing them again.

The Police with The Fixx and Eric Burdon and the Animals: 10/28/1983

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As the ticket stub shows, this concert was originally supposed to be at the Miami Baseball Stadium. But because of the huge demand for tickets, the concert was moved to the Orange Bowl, a much larger venue. Even in the big stadium, it was a packed mob scene.

I went with my girlfriend at the time and my brother Mike. We got there plenty early, since it was general admission and I wanted to see The Animals, who were opening the show. The Animals were great and Eric Burdon’s voice was strong. The only downer song was “House of the Rising Sun.” They kind of changed the arrangement around and it felt like they were playing it half-assed. I felt like, really? I’m sure you are getting tired of the song, but if you are going to play it, at least put some energy into it and realize that it is such an iconic song that futzing with the arrangement  is akin to Led Zeppelin playing a reggae version of “Stairway to Heaven.”

The Fixx played next, and they were cool. They had some hits at the time: “Saved By Zero” and “One Thing Leads to Another.” They definitely had a good energy and light show. Plus, their style fit in well with The Police.

So I have to say that The Police were way better live than I expected. They always seemed more like a studio band than a good live act. But I was pleasantly surprised. They were really high-energy and sounded great, even in an acoustic hell hole like the Orange Bowl. My big complaint, though, was the overcrowding. It was really uncomfortable to be mashed among so many people sweating in the South Florida heat for the entire day. But other than that—good times!

Here is the Police’s setlist, courtesy of setlist.fm:

  1. Voices Inside My Head
  2. Synchronicity I
  3. Synchronicity II
  4. Walking in Your Footsteps
  5. Message in a Bottle
  6. Walking on the Moon
  7. My God
  8. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
  9. Wrapped Around Your Finger
  10. Tea in the Sahara
  11. Hole in My Life
  12. Spirits in the Material World
  13. Invisible Sun
  14. One World (Not Three)
  15. King of Pain
  16. Don’t Stand So Close to Me
  17. Every Breath You Take
  18. Murder by Numbers
  19. Roxanne
  20. (encore) Can’t Stand Losing You / Reggatta de Blanc
  21. (encore) So Lonely

Deep Purple: 3/16/1985

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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!!

Black Sabbath and Van Halen: 11/5/1978

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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!

Heart and Blue Oyster Cult: 4/19/1981

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While the stub only lists Heart and Blue Oyster Cult, there were several other bands at this all-day rock fest:

  • Firefall (don’t ask me how they managed to get on the bill)
  • Motorhead (they were cool)
  • Freewheel (a most forgettable act)

So a little bit about the Miami Baseball Stadium. Back then, Miami had no professional baseball team. The stadium was a dump that was used by northern teams for spring training. And occasionally, they would book a large show there. Since I was a huge BOC fan and I also really liked Heart a lot, going to this concert was a no-brainer.

As I mentioned, Freewheel was completely forgettable, and if it wasn’t for the wonders of the internet, I would never have even been able to tell you who was the first band that played. But Motorhead was very good. They rocked and got the crowd riled up. Unfortunately, Firefall sucked all the energy out of the crowd. It was kind of like being on a musical rollercoaster.

Finally, BOC came out. This was right before they released Fire of Unknown Origin, so they were still a powerful force in rock music. I had seen the Cult before, so I knew what to expect, and they delivered, tearing through a set of hits like “Cities on Flame,” “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” and “Godzilla.” During “Godzilla,” a huge Godzilla monster emerged from behind the stage, shooting menacing red lights from its eyes and breathing clouds of smoke. It was impressive.

Heart took the stage and proved that they deserved the headliner slot. They totally rocked! I was in the stands at that point, having spent most of the day on the open field and desperately needing a break. I remember feeling the stands trembling under the concerted stomping of feet as Ann and Nancy Wilson kept the crowd rockin’ after a long day of music.

It’s kind of weird to think back on this show, which was almost 35 years ago. Makes me feel old. But, one good thing about being old is that I was able to go to see great shows like this for less than what TicketMaster now charges as a “convenience fee.”

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to go out and see some live music!

Paul McCartney: 4/15/1990

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I’m bummed that this ticket has faded! What was it Neil Young said: “It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.” Still, here is the stub in all its faded glory.

I went to this concert with my good friend Lowell. It was a huge stadium show at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, and it was amazing.

First off, I should say that seeing a Beatle in concert was a really moving experience for me. My mom turned me on to The Beatles at a young age. To this day, I still have some of her old vinyl Beatles’ albums and listen to them with my kids (thanks to my brother for saving those and passing them on to me).

The concert was a solid mix of Beatles, Wings, and McCartney solo material. When you see McCartney live and start singing along with all his songs, you realize just how prolific he was and how much music he created that impacted our world.

High points of this concert? There were too many to list. Consider it one long high point. But the songs that really stand out in my memory are “Let It Be,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (with a great liquid light show), and “Golden Slumbers Medley” as the final encore.

I was fortunate enough to see McCartney again with my daughters, many years later. But that’s another stub and another story.

“And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.”