Neil Young: 2/6/1983

This was my first time seeing Neil Young, and I was really psyched. Neil was such a huge influence on me as a young guitarist (pun intended). He was performing two shows at the James L. Knight Center in Miami, and I don’t recall why, but I only got a ticket to see him on the second night.

The Knight Center was a great venue in downtown Miami, relatively small and with great acoustics. There was not a bad seat anywhere in the house.

This was a solo tour in support of the Trans album, which had come out the previous year. It was just Neil by himself with various guitars, harmonicas, keyboards, and a banjo. He took his time, selecting what instrument to play, and seemed 100% comfortable on stage. And he played for a long time, not shying away from songs that usually have a full band (“Powderfinger” and “Down by the River” come to mind).

I would go on to see Neil multiple times in the future, including four times with Crazy Horse, but this first time seeing him holds a magical place in my heart.

Here’s the setlist, and may Neil keep on rockin’ for many more years.

Setlist

  • Comes a Time
  • Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
  • Down by the River
  • Only Love Can Break Your Heart
  • Soul of a Woman
  • Are There Any More Real Cowboys?
  • Cowgirl in the Sand
  • My Boy
  • Helpless
  • Dance, Dance, Dance
  • Southern Man
  • Don’t Be Denied
  • The Losing End
  • Cortez the Killer
  • Powderfinger
  • Ohio
  • Sail Away
  • After the Gold Rush
  • Transformer Man
  • My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)
  • Mr. Soul
  • Sugar Mountain
  • I Am a Child
  • Computer Age

Patti Smith: 3/9/2020

Patti Smith has been on my bucket list of musicians/bands that I want to see before I die for a long time, and has actually been at the top of that list ever since I saw Steve Winwood. So when I saw that Patti was playing at the legendary Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, I was psyched, until I realized to my dismay that I had heard about it too late and tickets were long gone for both nights. I looked at the “verified resale” prices and balked at the fact that they were well over $200. As much as my wife and I both wanted to see her, we did not want to do so that badly. I opted to play the waiting game, checking back occasionally to see if anything appeared within the limit of what I was willing to spend. My patience paid off, and I managed to secure us some tickets a couple weeks before the show. Still paid more than the face value, but at least it was within our budget.

And then came the coronavirus.

The Bay Area was reporting a number of cases, and health officials were advising individuals to avoid crowds. Yes, a sold out concert constitutes a crowd. My wife and I discussed the risks, and decided to go for it. This might be our last chance to see Patti in concert, we spent the money, and chances are, we would not be going to any more concerts for a while. In fact, the word is that now Santa Clara County is banning all large events, so this would definitely be the last show for a while.

One bonus about the virus scare was that the roads were free of traffic. The drive to San Fran, which would usually be close to two hours during rush hour, was an easy one hour. Parking was a breeze. We actually found street parking on Fillmore Street a few blocks from the auditorium. We figured we would grab a cup of coffee before the show, and saw the familiar Starbucks sign as we got closer to the venue, but they were closed – at 7:00 pm! WTF? What kind of a caffeine pusher closes their doors at 7:00? Well, we just went to the Fillmore and got in line.

They guy behind us coughed, and my wife told him he needs to be covering his mouth. That’s why I love her! He assured us that he was getting over a cold and it was not corona. Fine, but we kept a safe distance anyway. Then the woman in front of us struck up a conversation. She was a big Patti Smith fan and had gone to see her the previous night. Hearing her rave reviews just made us more psyched.

When we entered the Fillmore, I was truly awestruck. This place was home to the music that I grew up on, that is integral to who I am. The walls were covered with vintage photos: The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Who with Pete sending his guitar sailing into the air, Eric Clapton when he was with Cream, on and on. The building seemed to resonate with the energy of concerts passed. I felt like I had entered the rock and roll Garden of Eden.

We found a spot, not too crowded, and checked out the opening act, Oliver Ray. Interesting. Three guys, Oliver on acoustic guitar and vocals, one guy on electric guitar, and the third dude on pedal steel. They had a unique sound that was hypnotic, almost too hypnotic. If we were sitting, my eyes would likely have started rolling into my skull. When they finished, I noticed Patti Smith on the side of the stage, watching them. I thought, “Now that’s cool. Supporting your opening act.”

In the break between bands, the place got packed. My germaphobia kicked in, and I tried not to let anyone press or rub against me. Not really possible at a general admission open-floor concert. I resigned myself that I would just need to sterilize myself afterward.

At long last, Patti and her band took the stage. And she was AWESOME! You know, sometimes when you have high expectations for a band, it is not easy for them to live up to the expectations. Not the case here. She was every bit as great as I had hoped. She played a nicely diverse set, interspersed with a couple readings from her books and some fun banter with the crowd. Her voice was strong, and she had more energy at 73 than a lot of musicians half her age. She proved that she is still the Godmother of Punk.

High points of the show for me… hands down the peak was “Land” segueing into “Gloria” to close the set. I’m getting chills now just recalling it as I write. She did a haunting cover version of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush,” which was very poignant. And finally, “People Have the Power” as an encore left me feeling hopeful and empowered.

As we were exiting after the show, we got a nice bonus. The staff was handing out really cool concert posters (see pictures at end of this post). We will definitely have to get them framed.

Anyway, here is the full setlist, after which I’ve included a few pictures from the show. Rock on, and keep yourselves healthy in these strange times.

 

Setlist:

  • Ask the Angels
  • Privilege (Set Me Free)
  • Don’t Say Nothing > “Footnote to Howl”
  • Reading from “Year of the Monkey”
  • Dancing Barefoot
  • Maria
  • Nine
  • Because the Night
  • About a Boy
  • Citizen Ship
  • After the Gold Rush
  • Reading from “Just Kids”
  • Pissing in a River
  • Land
  • Gloria

Encore:

  • People Have the Power

Warren Haynes 30th Anniversary Christmas Jam – Second Night: 12/8/2018

The second night of the Christmas Jam was faced with a winter storm, which dumped significant snow on Asheville. Because of the expected difficulties, those who did not feel comfortable venturing out were given the option to stream the show from home. Since I live only about a mile from the venue, I of course went and brought a warm jacket so I could walk home afterwards.

I went with my friend Seth, and we grabbed some barbecue before heading over to the show. When we got there, I was elated to see throngs of scalpers desperately trying to sell off their tickets for below face value in a lame attempt to recoup some of their money. It makes me happy to see scalpers suffering and losing money. I have no sympathy for those vampires who feed off others.

Anyway, the second night boasted a stellar lineup of headline acts:

  • Joe Bonamassa
  • Jim James
  • Dave Grohl and Friends
  • Eric Church
  • Gov’t Mule

In addition, there were also the guest musicians who graced the stage on the first night of the Jam.

The show began with a collaboration of guest musicians jamming and warming up the crowd. That was followed by Joe Bonamassa, who I was probably the most excited to see. As a guitarist, I was eager to see the blues great perform live. He did not disappoint. After he played, all I could think was that I would hate to be a musician having to follow that guitarist. But, the rest of the show was right up there in caliber.

Sadly, my friend Seth left right after Bonamassa’s set. Snow was already piling up and he was concerned about not being able to make it home. Thankfully, I had other friends who were there, and I made the rounds, sitting with various friends throughout the evening.

There were many high points that night, but probably the best for me was when Gov’t Mule kicked off their set with Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” segueing into Hendrix’s “Machine Gun,” then back into “Rockin’ in the Free World,” with Dave Grohl playing guitar with them. UNBELIEVABLE! Here is a video recording on YouTube for those who are interested.

Not long after that, I decided to cut out a little early and start walking home. It was already past 1:00 am, and I knew it would be a cold trudge through the deep snow. But actually, it was kind of nice, in the surreal early morning darkness. Here is a picture I snapped on the walk home.

Here are the setlists from the headline acts. Hope you all have a rockin’ New Year, and may 2019 bring you lots of live music!

Setlists:

Joe Bonamassa:

  • Beck’s Bolero >
  • Rice Pudding
  • Spanish Boots
  • SWLABR
  • I Can’t Quit You Baby
  • How Many More Times

Jim James:

  • Just a Fool
  • Throwback
  • All Over the World
  • Here in Spirit
  • Over and Over
  • Better Get Together While Still Got Time
  • No Secrets
  • A New Life >
  • State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)

Dave Grohl:

  • Play
  • Times Like These (with Warren Haynes)
  • Everlong

Eric Church:

  • Desperate Man
  • Record Year
  • Carolina
  • Smoke a Little Smoke
  • Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More (with Warren Haynes)
  • Atlantic City (with Warren Haynes)
  • Diddy Wah Diddy (with Warren Haynes)
  • The Weight (with Warren Haynes)

Gov’t Mule:

  • Rockin’ in the Free World (with Dave Grohl) >
  • Machine Gun  (with Dave Grohl) (instrumental) >
  • Rockin’ in the Free World (with Dave Grohl)
  • Thorazine Shuffle
  • Revolution Come, Revolution Go
  • Million Miles From Yesterday
  • Dreams and Songs
  • Red Baron
  • Mule

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

Summer Magic Music Fest with The Guess Who and Buffalo Springfield Revisited: 5/31/1987

This show was very forgettable. It was basically one of those oldies concerts that was hosted by Magic 102.7, which was the South Florida oldies station in the 80’s. The Guess Who was cool, since they did have Burton Cummings still singing with them, but Buffalo Springfield Revisited was basically a Buffalo Springfield cover band that I think might have had the bass player and drummer from the original band with them. But how a band could even have the audacity to use that name and not have Richie Furay, Stephen Stills, or Neil Young in there is beyond my comprehension.

I think there might have been one or two other bands there, but my memory of this show is cloudy. It was basically just a day hanging out by the water and enjoying a summer day in Miami while hearing some live music.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: 10/29/1986

CrazyHorse_10-29-86

I had gone to see Neil and Crazy Horse the night before (click here for my memories of that night). I don’t recall as much about this night as the first night, but there are a few things that stand out.

I had second row center for this show, so I was very close to the stage, and the Knight Center was a small venue anyway. Neil and the band played two sets, just like the first night, and mixed up the songs a bit, which was nice. But this evening, there was a special guest.

To appreciate this guest, I need to talk a little more about the stage show. The stage was set up as a garage, which is fitting since Crazy Horse is a garage band par excellence. On the first night, while the band was playing, there were mock phone calls between songs from an irate neighbor insisting that they turn down the music. This was the same during this show, but the voice was different, and familiar, but I could not place it. Even the words sounded familiar: “AHHHH!! OH! OH! Turn that shit down! I’ll come over there and kick your ass, you fucker! AHHHHHHHH!”

When the “irate neighbor” stormed into the “garage,” I immediately made the connection. It was the great comic Sam Kinison, aka the screamer. He got in Neil’s face and screamed obscenities at him while Neil responded by turning his guitar up louder. It was hysterical, and very rebelliously rock and roll.

I had brought a camera in with me (yes, this was before the days of cell phones with built-in cameras). Here is the picture I snapped of the late, great Sam Kinison getting all up in Neil’s grill.

Rock on!

NeilAndSam

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: 10/28/1986

CrazyHorse_10-28-86

I love Neil Young, and while this was not the first time I saw him in concert, it was the first time that I saw him with Crazy Horse. They were scheduled to play two nights at Miami’s James L. Knight Center, so I planned on going both nights. My friend Chris decided to go with me to the first night, so we camped out in front of Record Land and got great seats. Although the ticket says Row B, it was actually front row center! I also got myself a ticket for the second night, but that’s another story.

Chris and I went to the show, along with his then wife, Helene. We took our seats front and center and were very psyched, Neil came onstage with the band and thundered into their first set. They were loud, heavy, everything I expected from Crazy Horse. I looked at Chris, who appeared to be as psyched as I was, and then I noticed his wife, slumped in the seat, asleep. And I was not the only one who noticed this. Neil Young walked up to the front of the stage, looked at her, cranked his guitar a little louder, played a bit, came back, looked at her still asnooze, shook his head, and went back to playing. It was… strange.

They took a break, at which point we tried to wake Helene, but she was out like a light. When the second set started, Neil checked on her again, shook his head, and continued to jam. I wondered how it must have felt, to be playing with all your might, rocking your heart out, and seeing someone in the first row snoring away. It did not seem to faze Neil too much though. The second set was even better than the first. He rocked right up until the final note of the encore.

When the concert was over, Chris and I had to carry his wife out. He lifted her from under the arms and I got her legs. But she decided this was the right time to wake up and started kicking at me. So I dropped her. She got to her feet and had some very unpleasant things to say. I have to say that Chris was very supportive, offing to assist his wife, but she was being pretty nasty. I guess we all have our bad days.

In spite of everything, I had a great time at this concert, and a great story to tell afterwards. But I had a ticket to see them again, the next night! Check back soon for my thoughts on the second night.

“Hey Hey, My My. Rock and roll will never die.”