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

Paul McCartney: 7/28/2010

mccartney_7-28-10

This was the second time that I went to see Sir Paul McCartney in concert, but it holds a special place in my heart because I went with my two daughters, who are both Beatles fans (I raised them well). I had seen McCartney 20 years before (I think there is a song reference here), but was particularly excited about this show because it was indoors as opposed to a big stadium show. My friend Bob was also taking his two daughters, so we all piled into his van and made the journey to Charlotte for the show.

We got there with time to get dinner, so we went for pizza. The streets were teeming with McCartney fans, which was very cool. There was a real sense that we were all part of something big.

After entering the arena, we had to split up, since we did not all have seats together. My daughters and I had seats in the upper deck on the side of the stage, which was cool because we looked right down on Paul and when he played piano, he was facing right at us. We missed some of the video stuff, but that was not a big deal for me.

Paul opened the show with Venus and Mars > Rock Show > Jet. I was floored right off the bat. Not what I would have expected, but Rock Show is one of my favorite Wings songs. The rest of the concert was heavy on the Beatles stuff, with a good dose of Wings and McCartney solo material. What was really cool, though, was that he played some George and John stuff, which was totally a surprise for me. It was like he was acknowledging the influence his former bandmates had on his musical career. I found it to be very moving.

Watching my kids dance and sing along to these songs made me happier than I can really express. My mom was a huge Beatles fan and actually went to school with Ringo in Liverpool. So watching my kids at this concert, it was like the music formed a bridge connecting generations. Music is like that. It transcends.

Paul played a marathon concert. I was really impressed with how long he played and the energy he had. There were so many high points, it would be impossible to cover them all. In addition to the opening, definitely “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “A Day in the Life,” and “Helter Skelter” were probably the top moments for me. But again, it was all great. There was nothing about this concert that was anything less than fab.

Here is the setlist. Let’s all hope that Paul keeps on rollin’ for years to come. He has been part of the soundtrack of my life and I would like to keep him around as long as possible.


Setlist:

  • Venus and Mars
  • Rock Show
  • Jet
  • All My Loving
  • Letting Go
  • Drive My Car
  • Highway
  • Let Me Roll It (With Foxy Lady Snippet)
  • The Long and Winding Road
  • Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
  • Let ‘Em In
  • My Love
  • I’ve Just Seen a Face
  • And I Love Her
  • Blackbird
  • Here Today
  • Dance Tonight
  • Mrs. Vandebilt
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Ram On
  • Something
  • Sing the Changes
  • Band on the Run
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  • Back in the U.S.S.R.
  • I’ve Got a Feeling
  • Paperback Writer
  • A Day in the Life (With Give Peace A Chance Snippet)
  • Let It Be
  • Live and Let Die
  • Hey Jude

Encore:

  • Day Tripper
  • Lady Madonna
  • Get Back

Encore 2:

  • Yesterday
  • Helter Skelter
  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
  • The End

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?