Dead & Company: 12/31/2019

Although I am a long-time Grateful Dead fan, and saw my first Dead show back in 1980, I was never fortunate enough to make the pilgrimage to the west coast to see the Grateful Dead do a New Year’s show. But now that I am here living in the Bay Area, I was not going to miss my chance to see Dead & Co. on New Year’s Eve.

When tickets went on sale, I logged onto everyone’s favorite Ticketmaster website and was put in a queue, and I waited… and waited. Finally I got in and nothing in my price range. But I was patient. Refresh… refresh… refresh. Finally, a single ticket appeared at face value for under $100, so I snatched it up. The rock and roll gods had smiled down upon me.

As NYE approached, I weighed the options on whether to take the train into San Francisco, or drive, which is less than an hour. I opted to drive, since I don’t indulge. I was unsure how late the concert would go and didn’t want to miss the last train, which was about 2:00 am.

On New Year’s Eve, my kids were in town for the holidays. Thankfully, my family was very understanding about my need to go to this show, and they were planning a chill evening at home. I headed off after an early dinner and drove into San Fran, getting there a few hours before the show.

As I pulled up to the Chase Center parking area, I asked how much parking was. The attendant told me $50. “$50?!” I replied, aghast. “No thanks.” I drove about a mile or so away from the venue to another lot, and that was also $50. I couldn’t believe it! I’ve paid half that much for concert tickets. I grudgingly turned around and went back to the lot right next to the Chase Center. If I was going to get hosed for parking, at least I wanted to be close.

After parking and finding a restroom, I made my way to the hippie vending area (nicknamed Shakedown Street). Lots of tie-dyes, stickers, and an abundance of illicit substances. While I generally don’t care what anyone chooses to do in regards to intoxicants, I confess that all the people selling nitrous oxide balloons and all the freaks huffing them pissed me off. I wanted to yell at them and say “Hey! You know that nitrous is one of the major global warming gasses, right? You selling nitrous to make a quick profit makes you just as bad as the oil execs pushing fossil fuels to make a buck.” But, I bit my tongue, purchased a “Making America Grateful Again” tee shirt, and got in line to enter the venue.

My seat was straight back, so I had a good view of the light show, and the sound was decent for an arena. The band took the stage right at 8:00 and launched into “In The Midnight Hour,” a great song to open a New Year’s show. They played two sets, and then took a somewhat longer break as the countdown to midnight began.

Shortly before midnight, the lights went down and the celebration began. A huge art deco clock was lowered behind the stage, and a biplane took off, circling the arena with some skeletons sitting on the wings. Then the dancers hit the stage, kicking up their heels in a “roaring 20’s” display that was very cool. As the sequined dancers kicked and shimmied, Father Time stepped out and began the countdown. “5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Happy New  Year!” Colored balloons cascaded down from the rafters as the band started playing “Sugar Magnolia.” Perfect! Everyone danced throughout the third set, and the band closed the night with “Touch of Grey” as the encore. Yeah, a new decade, and I will survive.

The drive home was uneventful. I had a bottle of cold brew coffee in the car, so I drank that and listened to the Stones’ “Exile on Main Street.” Good driving music for a late night drive home.

Anyway, here is the full setlist, along with some picture I took from the show. Rock on, and may 2020 bring you lots of live music!

Set 1:

  • In the Midnight Hour
  • Big Railroad Blues
  • Iko Iko
  • Mr. Charlie
  • Loser
  • Tennessee Jed
  • Sugaree
  • New Speedway Boogie

Set 2:

  • Help on the Way >
  • Slipknot! >
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • Estimated Prophet >
  • Eyes of the World >
  • Drums (with Zakir Hussain) >
  • Space (with Zakir Hussain) >
  • Milestones
  • Standing on the Moon
  • Not Fade Away

Set 3:

  • Sugar Magnolia >
  • Uncle John’s Band >
  • Scarlet Begonias >
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Sunshine Daydream

Encore:

  • Touch of Grey

Hamilton: 11/29/2019

So I have finally found out what all the excitement is about, and went to see Hamilton.

My wife and daughter were watching the parade on Thanksgiving morning, when a commercial came on advertising Hamilton in San Francisco, saying tickets were still available. My wife went online, and sure enough, we were able to get three tickets for the following day (we were not going to miss our shot!). The ticket prices were very reasonable, $99.00 each, which is way less than what I hear others have paid for tickets to a performance. The only down side was that the seats were not together, but we were in the same general area of the mezzanine, so that was fine.

While I’m not a huge fan of Broadway musicals, I do enjoy them, and this was definitely one of the better musicals I have seen. The songs were great, the story was engaging, and the stage was very cool. While I personally would not consider it to be $400-a-ticket good, it was well worth the hundred bucks a ticket we paid.

Since I’m not a theater critic, I don’t have much else to share. It was a cool show and I’m glad I went.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 11/26/2019

This was the first concert I had attended in a while. The past few months have been challenging: relocation issues and the passing of a loved one just a couple of the major things. As such, hitting concerts was not a priority. But things are settling a bit, so my wife and I decided to go see Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the SAP Center (affectionately called the Shark Tank since it’s home to the San Jose Sharks hockey team). I’d never seen them before and heard they put on a killer stage show, so I figured it would be worth checking them out.

We had lower level seats, pretty much straight back. I figured this would be a good spot to appreciate the lasers and pyrotechnics (I was correct in my assumption). The show started almost on time, and there was no opening act, just TSO.

So the first half of the show was Christmas Eve and Other Stories, and was comprised of about 15 songs, very much in the Christmas spirit. I have to say, if I’m being honest, I found it a little too hokey for my tastes. It was like being strapped in a chair and made to watch Hallmark Holiday Programming for an hour straight (note that Hallmark Channel sponsored the tour). My wife said it felt like being in a mega-church. So while there were some cool parts, overall, I was not impressed with the first half.

Thankfully, they redeemed themselves in the second half.

The second half was chock full of classical hits (Grieg, Mozart, Beethoven, etc.) amped up with wailing guitars reminiscent of Judas Priest. And the light show was mind-blowing! There was even a massive Tesla coil shooting out flames and bolts of electricity that crackled in time to the musical pieces.

So on the whole, I liked the show. I would even consider seeing them again, but only if it was not around the holidays. I would love to see a performance that was all hard rock interpretations of classical music. That kind of stuff brings out the prog rock fan in me.

Here are some pictures I snapped from the show, along with the setlist. Hope your holidays rock!

 

Setlist:

  • Who I Am
  • An Angel Came Down
  • Come All Ye Faithful / O Holy Night
  • The Prince of Peace
  • First Snow
  • A Mad Russian’s Christmas
  • Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)
  • Good King Joy
  • Ornament
  • Old City Bar
  • Promises to Keep
  • This Christmas Day
  • An Angel Returned
  • Epilogue
  • The Storm / The Mountain
  • Handful of Rain
  • Mozart/Figaro
  • Christmas Canon Rock
  • Wizards in Winter
  • Can You Hear Me Now
  • Beethoven
  • Believe
  • Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness)
  • Requiem (The Fifth)
  • Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (Reprise)

Motley Crue and Alice Cooper: 10/22/2014

While I generally get physical tickets for concerts, this one is a printout e-ticket. What’s unique about it is it is a Groupon ticket. My brother contacted me and said that Alice Cooper and Motley Crue were playing in Greensboro and he wanted to go, and asked if I was interested. Since I had never seen the Crue (they were not high on my list) and it was their final tour, added to the fact that I will not pass on a chance to see the Coop, I said yes. Anyway, my brother said he was getting tickets at a significant discount through Groupon. I didn’t even know that was a thing! He snagged tickets for himself, a friend of his, and me.

I drove out to Greensboro, which was about a two-and-a-half hour drive from where I was living at the time. We all connected, grabbed some dinner, and went to the show. The first band to play was called The Raskins. They were pretty good. Young leather-clad rockers who were clearly raised on steady diet of early punk.

After a brief intermission, the lights went down and Alice took the stage, opening with “Hello Hooray,” in my opinion one of the greatest opening songs ever. The song concluded with a shower of sparks cascading from above the stage. It was awesome! The rest of the show was all killer, no filler, blasting from one classic tune to the next. The only disappointment was that it was a fairly short set, with no encore. But I suppose that is how it goes when you’re one of the opening acts.

Then came Motley Crue. So I confess I have never been a fan, swiftly changing the station on the radio when they came on. But I’m open-minded, and was actually looking forward to checking them out. Lots of people I know told me that they put on an impressive show, so what the hell, it’s only rock and roll.

My overall impression… meh. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly did not love it. And in all fairness, they played after Alice Cooper, who is one of my favorite all-time artists. Had it been Motley Crue opening for Alice, I think I would have enjoyed their set much more than I did. It just felt anticlimactic. Even Tommy Lee’s “big drum solo” where the drum set went along the track above the crowd just felt, I don’t know, like a big fat who-cares. But, at the end of the day, I’m glad I got to see them and check them off the list. Definitely not the worst band I’ve seen, but not rushing out to buy any of their records either.

Here are the setlists for both Alice and Motley Crue. Rock on!

Setlists

Alice Cooper

  • Hello Hooray
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Under My Wheels
  • I’m Eighteen
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Poison
  • Dirty Diamonds
  • Welcome to My Nightmare
  • Feed My Frankenstein
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Killer (partial)
  • I Love the Dead (excerpt)
  • School’s Out

Motley Crue

  • Saints of Los Angeles
  • Wild Side
  • Primal Scream
  • Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
  • Looks That Kill
  • On With the Show
  • Too Fast for Love
  • Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room (With “Rock and Roll (Part 2))
  • Without You
  • Mutherfucker of the Year
  • Anarchy in the U.K.
  • T.N.T. (Terror ‘N Tinseltown)
  • Dr. Feelgood
  • In the Beginning
  • Shout at the Devil
  • Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
  • O Fortuna
  • Drum Solo
  • Guitar Solo
  • Live Wire
  • Too Young to Fall in Love
  • Girls, Girls, Girls
  • Kickstart My Heart

Encore:

  • Home Sweet Home

Hot Tuna: 1/24/1988

I’ve seen Hot Tuna a lot of times, so the shows tend to blend together in my memory, but this one stands out. I went with my friend Jon to this one, and Jon was also a huge Tuna fan, so we were pretty psyched.

The Carefree Theatre was an old movie theater in West Palm Beach that opened in 1947 and was converted to become a venue for smaller acts. It was a really cool place for a concert, because every seat was a great seat. That said, we had sixth row, so we were close to the stage.

This was the classic acoustic Hot Tuna duo, with just Jack and Jorma. They played a long time and the crowd was really into it. Great selection of songs, including “Good Shepherd,” which hearkened back to Jack and Jorma’s days with the Jefferson Airplane.

I was able to find a partial setlist on tunabase.com. Sorry I can’t fill in the blanks, but it was over 30 years ago. Rock on!

Set 1:

  • I Know You Rider
  • Hesitation Blues
  • Walkin’ Blues
  • I See The Light
  • Candy Man
  • 99 Year Blues
  • Killing Time In The Crystal City

Set 2:

  • Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning
  • Ice Age
  • Too Many Years
  • Sea Child
  • Trial By Fire
  • San Francisco Bay Blues
  • How Long Blues
  • Good Shepherd
  • I Am The Light Of This World

(missing rest of set)

Paul Simon: 2/7/1991

This show was part of Paul Simon’s “Born at the Right Time” tour. I was pretty psyched to see him, since his songs were definitely a part of the soundtrack of my early years. I even had “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” on 45 back in the day.

I went with my then girlfriend, and we had decent seats, even though they were upper level. The Miami Arena was not huge, which was probably why the Heat abandoned it and built a bigger arena, which resulted in the venue being demolished in 2008.

Anyway, back to the concert. Paul Simon was amazing. He sounded great and had a solid backing band comprised of really cool world musicians. He played a nice long show… but I had one complaint. He played “You Can Call Me Al” TWICE, one right after the other. So he played the song, everyone was dancing and singing along, and when they finished, Paul said “Wow! That was great! Let’s do it again.” And they did. OK, they played a shortened version, but still, I felt ever so slightly rooked. I mean, Paul Simon has a ton of great songs, a lot of which he did not play. He could have tossed in “Mrs. Robinson” or “Scarborough Fair” or “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” instead. Just sayin’.

Besides the repeat, it was a great show. Here’s the setlist. Rock on.

Setlist:

  • The Obvious Child
  • The Boy in the Bubble
  • She Moves On
  • Kodachrome
  • Born at the Right Time
  • Negotiations and Love Songs
  • Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
  • Proof
  • I Know What I Know
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • The Cool, Cool River
  • Further to Fly
  • Cecilia
  • Graceland
  • You Can Call Me Al
  • You Can Call Me Al
  • Still Crazy After All These Years
  • Late in the Evening
  • Hearts and Bones
  • Loves Me Like a Rock
  • Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
  • American Tune
  • The Boxer
  • The Sound of Silence

Warren Haynes 25th Christmas Jam – Second Night: 12/14/2013

After a long night of music on the first night of the Jam, I rested up and felt ready for the second night’s festivities. The headliners for the second night were:

  • Aquarium Rescue Unit
  • O.A.R.
  • Michael Franti & Friends
  • Gregg Allman & Friends
  • Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
  • Gov’t Mule
  • Xmas Jam Band

In addition, there was a nice array of special guests: Craig Sorrells, Bill Evans, Roosevelt Collier, Casey Driessen, Mike Seal, Dr. Dan Matrazzo, Billy Thornton, Ron Holloway, Mike Barnes, Ron Johnson, Jeff Sipe, Audley Freed, Count M’Butu, and John Scofield.

I had seen all the main acts before, with the exception of Aquarium Rescue Unit and O.A.R. I was totally unfamiliar with O.A.R., but had heard of them. I have to say, they were really good. Their version of Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain” with Warren Haynes sitting in on guitar was excellent.

Of all the bands performing that night, I was most excited about Aquarium Rescue Unit. I’d seen Col. Bruce Hampton several times, and was pretty psyched to see the classic ARU reunited for a live performance. They did not disappoint at all, even though my expectations were high. They totally jammed from beginning to end. Unfortunately, this would be my last time seeing Col. Bruce. Just a few years later, he would die in a way that every musician dreams about. He was on stage with a stellar list of musicians, celebrating his 70th birthday with a concert at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. While jamming with his friends, in the middle of performing the Grateful Dead’s “Lovelight” as an encore, he collapsed on stage and died. Here is the Jambase article about his death. When I go, I hope it’s like that; guitar in hand and surrounded by my friends.

Anyway, back to the Christmas Jam.

The rest of the night was incredible. It had to be to keep me up until 3:00 am again. While ARU was the highlight for me as far as bands go, the definite high point of the entire night was when Gregg Allman kicked off his set with “Statesboro Blues.” I can’t think of a better Allman Brothers’ tune to open a set.

Speaking of sets, I could not find all the setlists, but here are the ones I was able to locate. Rock on!

Setlists:

Warren Haynes and Craig Sorrells

  • Hope She’ll Be Happier

O.A.R.

  • About Mr. Brown
  • Dareh Meyod
  • Black Rock
  • Fool in the Rain (with Warren Haynes)
  • Peace
  • Heaven
  • That Was a Crazy Game of Poker

Aquarium Rescue Unit

  • Fixin’ to Die
  • Elevator to the Moon
  • Basically Frightened
  • Compared to What
  • Yield Not to Temptation (with Bill Evans and Roosevelt Collier)
  • Space Is the Place (with Warren Haynes, Casey Driessen, Roosevelt Collier, Bill Evans, Mike Seal, Dan Matrazzo, Billy Thornton, Ron Hollaway)
  • Right Now (with Ron Holloway, Mike Seal, Casey Driessen, Roosevelt Collier, Bill Evans, Ike Stubblefield, Billy Thornton, Craig Sorrell)

Michael Franti & Friends

  • I Got Love for You
  • I Don’t Wanna Go
  • The Sound of Sunshine (with Mike Barnes)
  • 11.59 (with Mike Barnes)
  • Let It Go
  • Life Is Better With You (with Warren Haynes, Artimus Pyle, and Chris Pyle)
  • Say Hey (I Love You)
  • Hey World

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

  • Medicine >
  • The Divide >
  • Big White Gate
  • Stop the Bus >
  • Paris (Ooh La La) >
  • The Lion the Beast the Beat >
  • Nothing but the Water
  • Gimme Some Lovin’

Gregg Allman & Friends

(Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, Audley Freed, Ron Johnson, Jeff Sipe, Count M’Butu)

  • Statesboro Blues
  • Just Another Rider (with Bill Evans, Ron Holloway, Craig Sorrells , Greg Hollowell)
  • Soulshine (with Bill Evans, Ron Holloway, Craig Sorrells, Greg Hollowell)
  • Stormy Monday
  • Dreams (with Oteil Burbridge, Bill Evans)
  • One Way Out  (with Oteil Burbridge)

Gov’t Mule

  • Hottentot (with John Scofield and Dr. Dan Matrazzo)
  • Doing It to Death (with John Scofield and Dr. Dan Matrazzo)
  • Sco-Mule (with John Scofield, Dr. Dan Matrazzo, Ron Holloway)
  • Kind of Bird (with John Scofield and Bill Evans)
  • Whisper in Your Soul (with Grace Potter)
  • Gold Dust Woman (with Grace Potter)