R.E.M.: 4/29/1989

The 80’s was a good time to see R.E.M. They were definitely riding the wave of success and were coming out with some great music. In fact, this tour was in support of the album “Green,” which is probably my favorite R.E.M. album

I went to this show with my long-time concert buddy Jim. Neither of us had seen the band before, so we were both pretty psyched. We went to downtown Miami, to the now-gone Miami Arena, and joined the fans.

I don’t have a whole lot to share about this concert, other than I thought the band was excellent. Nothing crazy happened, just had a fun night digging on some cool music.

Here’s the full setlist. (I had forgotten they did three encores.)

Setlist:

  • Pop Song 89
  • Exhuming McCarthy
  • Welcome to the Occupation
  • Turn You Inside-Out
  • Sitting Still
  • Orange Crush
  • Fall on Me
  • Feeling Gravity’s Pull
  • Cuyahoga
  • World Leader Pretend
  • Begin the Begin
  • Pretty Persuasion
  • Rotary Ten
  • I Believe
  • I Remember California
  • Get Up
  • Auctioneer (Another Engine)
  • It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Encore:

  • Stand
  • Academy Fight Song
  • You Are the Everything

Encore 2:

  • Finest Worksong
  • King of Birds
  • Swan Swan H
  • Life and How to Live It

Encore 3:

  • Harpers
  • Summertime
  • Crazy
  • Perfect Circle
  • After Hours
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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: 7/5/1989

This is one of those concerts that is a little foggy. I remember pieces of this show, and I distinctly remember really liking it, but the details are lost. I tried to find the setlist online, figuring that would spark some more memories, but alas, could not find one. What I do recall from this show is “American Girl” and “Even the Losers,” two of my favorite Petty tunes. Also, during “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” I recall that they had a cool liquid light show, which was appropriate.

I wish I had more to share about this one. I know it was great. But alas, that’s all I have. Rock on!

Eric Clapton: 7/23/1990

This concert was part of Clapton’s Journeyman tour. I had seen Clapton years before this with Muddy Waters, but I was definitely looking forward to seeing him again. My girlfriend at the time, Joyce, was a big Clapton fan too, so we were both excited about this show.

Our seats were in the lower section, pretty much straight back, so the sound was good, but the musicians were a little small. Not that I minded. Clapton sounded great, as was to be expected. He is, without question, one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

So you may be wondering about the guitar pick that is in the image along with the ticket stub. Of course, I would not have been able to get a pick sitting all the way in the back. But my roommate at time, Lowell, had seats right up near the front center, and he was one of the lucky souls to get a guitar pick that Eric had actually touched and played guitar with… and he gave it to me! I was kind of shocked. All I could think was, “Damn! That’s a true friend who offers you his Eric Clapton guitar pick.” It is a piece of rock memorabilia that I will treasure forever.

Here’s  the setlist from the show.

Setlist:

  • Pretending
  • No Alibis
  • Running on Faith
  • I Shot the Sheriff
  • White Room
  • Can’t Find My Way Home
  • Bad Love
  • Before You Accuse Me
  • Old Love
  • Tearing Us Apart
  • Wonderful Tonight
  • Cocaine
  • Layla
  • Cross Road Blues
  • Sunshine of Your Love

Allman Brothers and Little Feat: 10/31/1991

Halloween Night with the Allmans and Little Feat!! I almost don’t need to say anything else.

I went to this show with my good friend Melissa. We decided not to get dressed up, but appreciated the fans who did. The Miami Arena was packed. We got there and grabbed our seats, which were on the right side of the stage, about halfway back. Great view, and the sound was good for an arena.

Little Feat opened and totally rocked it. Warren Haynes even came out and sat in on one of their songs. The only thing that was disappointing was I wished they would have played longer. I love me some Feat, and while the set was solid, there were plenty of other songs I would have loved to have heard.

Then the Allmans came out and kicked things off with “Statesboro Blues.” Perfect! The whole set was killer, and Melissa was especially psyched that they played her namesake song. Members of Little Feat came out and jammed with the Allmans on “Southbound,” which was way cool. And they closed the night with “Whipping Post.” We danced our asses off and left totally pumped from a long night of incredible music.

Here are the setlists.

Little Feat Setlist:

  • Let It Roll
  • Hate to Lose Your Lovin’
  • Fat Man in the Bathtub
  • Boom Box Car
  • Willin’
  • Cajun Girl
  • Shake Me Up
  • Oh Atlanta
  • Dixie Chicken (with Warren Haynes)

Encore:

  • Texas Twister

Allman Brothers Setlist

  • Statesboro Blues
  • Blue Sky
  • End Of The Line
  • Nobody Knows
  • Southbound (w/members of Little Feat)
  • Low Down Dirty Mean
  • Melissa
  • Come On In My Kitchen
  • Midnight Rider
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
  • Hoochie Coochie Man
  • Kind Of Bird
  • Get On With Your Life
  • In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
  • Revival

Encore:

  • Whipping Post

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

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, with Sonic Youth and Social Distortion: 3/9/1991

I remember this concert very well. I love Neil Young, and had seen him with Crazy Horse a couple times before this show, but I had not seen Sonic Youth or Social Distortion, and I was pretty psyched that they were fleshing out a solid triple bill (and for only $20!!).

I went with my good friend and fellow musician, Big Ed Stokes (he was morbidly big, which sadly led to his early death not long after this show). Ed was one of the best guitarists I knew, and we spent many long days together playing music and teaching each other songs.

Anyway, we got to the Miami Arena with plenty time to spare, got situated, and waited for the music to start. Social D played first, and they totally rocked it! Straight-ahead rock and roll with a healthy injection of punk. When they finished, all I could think was, “Damn! I’d love to see them as a headliner.” They played a smokin’ version Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” which was mind-blowing. When they finished and the lights came up, Ed and I were both pumped and ready for the next act—Sonic Youth.

What can I say about Sonic Youth? They were one of the most disappointing bands I have ever seen. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the truth is, I thought they sucked. I stood there watching them, as they mindlessly pounded on their instruments, making noise, and rolling around on the stage, getting tangled in their cords. It was like watching a group of morons who were trying to make obnoxious noise to torment those around them. I distinctly recall wondering if they even knew how to play their instruments, because it did not seem like it to me. And after such a great set from Social D, it just made them sound all the worse. I asked Ed what he thought of them, and he said “They fuckin’ suck. I’m getting a headache.” Now Ed never shied away from loud music, so I felt validated. We ended up hanging out in the hallway until they finished playing.

After the Sonic Cacophony ended, we went back inside and waited for Neil. Finally, the lights went down and Neil & Co. exploded on stage with “Hey Hey, My My,” and it was one killer song after another. The high points for me were a powerful cover version of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and “Welfare Mothers” as one of the encore tunes. I can close my eyes right now, 27 years later, and still picture them on stage, pounding out some of the greatest rock and roll ever. As long as Neil Young is still alive, then rock and roll can never die.

Here is the setlist from the show.

Setlist:

  • Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
  • Crime in the City
  • Blowin’ in the Wind
  • Love to Burn
  • Cinnamon Girl
  • Mansion on the Hill
  • Fuckin’ Up
  • Cortez the Killer
  • Powderfinger
  • Love and Only Love
  • Rockin’ in the Free World

Encore:

  • Welfare Mothers
  • Like a Hurricane

Steely Dan: 8/21/1994

SteelyDan_8-21-94

To this day, my wife has no recollection of going to this concert with me, and there is a good reason for it: We were both severely jet lagged.

We had gone on vacation to Europe and returned to the States the day before this concert, so the night of the show, we were still under the influence of the time difference. That was not going to stop us. We dragged our tired asses to the concert and tried our best to ply ourselves with coffee. I managed to stay awake for the whole show, but I was feeling a little delirious.

I can’t recall a lot of the details from this concert, but I know I really liked it. For them to keep me awake in the state I was in was impressive in and of itself. I have vague impressions of some of the songs, particularly “Reelin’ in the Years,” “Kid Charlemagne,” and “Royal Scam.” I know they were great and I know I enjoyed myself, and I can say with certainty that I got to see them live.