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

Grateful Dead: 3/31/1989

While this show is also fuzzy, I remember more about it than I remember from the previous night’s show. We had general admission tickets for this one, so we were on the floor, which always adds to the surreal experience. I can still envision dancing in smoke that was thick as the Mists of Avalon. A thriving mass of movement, swirling and swaying to the free-form flow of the music. And the lights seemed unusually vibrant.

I recall the second set being exceptionally good. Brent kicked it off with a killer version of “Hey Pocky Way,” which was included as part of the “So Many Roads” compilation set. Then we had “Truckin’,” “Terrapin Station,” “Morning Dew,” and “Good Lovin’,” with “Brokedown Palace” for an encore, which in my opinion is a great encore song.

Anyway, it was yet another night on the long strange trip. Here’s the full setlist.

Set 1:

  • Hell in a Bucket
  • Sugaree
  • Minglewood Blues
  • Peggy-O
  • Me and My Uncle >
  • Big River
  • Loser
  • Victim or the Crime
  • Standing on the Moon

Set 2:

  • Hey Pocky Way
  • Truckin’
  • Terrapin Station
  • Drums > Space
  • I Will Take You Home
  • All Along the Watchtower
  • Morning Dew
  • Good Lovin’

Encore:

  • Brokedown Palace

Grateful Dead: 3/30/1989

The two shows in Greensboro are somewhat blurry, but there are snippets I remember. I definitely recall hanging with my friend Nancy, and I’m pretty sure I was with my friends Jon, Julie, and Miriam, although not totally sure about that. What does stand out distinctly is the sheer chaos in the parking lot scene before each show. Way too many people, many of whom had no tickets and were looking for a miracle or just there for the party. This led to problems in a town that did not seem like it was ready to host a psychedelic circus of freaks. There was a news story where an irate resident near the coliseum expressed his dismay at the fact that someone actually squatted and took a crap on his front lawn. It really seemed like the people who were getting on the Dead caravan were losing touch with reality.

I wish I had more to share about this first night, but I don’t. I am including the setlist though, which looks like it was a good show, but again, no way for me to tell. Maybe I should give the show a listen via ETREE.

Set 1:

  • Bertha
  • Jack Straw
  • Row Jimmy
  • Blow Away
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece
  • Bird Song
  • The Promised Land

Set 2:

  • China Cat Sunflower >
  • I Know You Rider
  • Looks Like Rain
  • He’s Gone
  • Drums > Space
  • The Other One
  • Stella Blue
  • Sugar Magnolia

Encore:

  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Alice Cooper: 9/30/2009

This tour was coined the Theatre of Death tour. What was unique about this show was that the Coop was killed not once, not twice, but three times during the concert: once by hanging, once by electric chair, and once with the classic guillotine.

I went with my friend and bandmate, Bill. We made the long drive from Asheville to Durham, but got there in plenty of time to grab some dinner before the show. Some great Cuban food in Durham!

We got in to the Performing Arts Center, which is a beautiful venue. Our seats were a little to the right, but pretty close. Anyway, the buzz was going around the place that a band called 5th Avenue Vampires was opening, and the band included Dennis Dunaway, Alice’s original bass player. I got pretty psyched after hearing this.

The 5th Avenue Vampires were very cool, and Dunaway did a nice bass solo which included classic snippets from vintage Cooper songs, like the intros to “Dead Babies” and “Gutter Cats.” Definitely got the crowd riled!

After the intermission, Alice took the stage, opening with “School’s Out,” and just ripping through one of the most incredibly choreographed performances ever, with an onslaught of one kick-ass song after another. It was all Killer, and no filler.

Then came the encore, which featured Dennis joining Alice on stage to play an extended reprise of “School’s Out.” For an old Cooper fan, I was in my glory seeing those two together slinking around the stage. One of those rock and roll moments that will remain with me forever.

After the show, we drove to my brother’s house and crashed there, since he lived fairly close to Durham.

Anyway, here’s the setlist. Rock on, my droogs.

Setlist:

  • School’s Out
  • Department of Youth
  • I’m Eighteen
  • Wicked Young Man
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Go to Hell
  • Guilty
  • Welcome to My Nightmare
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Poison
  • The Awakening
  • From the Inside
  • Nurse Rozetta
  • Is It My Body
  • Be My Lover
  • Only Women Bleed
  • I Never Cry
  • Black Widow Jam (with Drum Solo)
  • Vengeance Is Mine
  • Devil’s Food
  • Dirty Diamonds
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Killer
  • I Love the Dead
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Under My Wheels

Encore:

  • School’s Out (with Dennis Dunaway)

Rodrigo y Gabriela: 3/15/2010

If you have not listened to this acoustic guitar duo, you need to. They are nothing short of amazing. As a guitarist, when I heard they were coming to town, I was psyched and immediately bought tickets. I went with my friend Joe and we got to the Orange Peel early enough to stake out a good spot.

They important thing about being a successful duo is that your playing really needs to complement your partner’s, and vice versa. Rodrigo and Gabriela do just that. Gabriela’s percussive rhythm is like a heartbeat that allows Rodrigo to spiral off into intricate Latin-influenced guitar solos. I left the show both awe-struck and inspired.

On the way out, Joe picked up a copy of the group’s current cd, “11:11.” He later gave it to me as a gift. I have to say, I listened to it extensively. Such a great album!

Sorry I could not find the setlist for this show online, but as a consolation, here is a YouTube video to check out and get a sense of this group’s amazing musicianship. Enjoy!

Rodrigo y Gabriela – ‘Tamacun’

Goblin: 11/28/2018

As a horror film buff, and someone who enjoys prog rock, it’s no surprise that I am a fan of Goblin. I saw them some years back on their first ever US tour, and they were awesome. So when I saw that they were coming back to town and would be performing the soundtrack to “Suspira” live during a screening of the film, I knew I would be going. I offered to buy my brother a ticket, since he is also a horror fan, and we were in.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Goblin, they are an Italian progressive rock band that formed in the 70s and became famous for composing the soundtrack music for films such as “Suspiria,” “Dawn of the Dead,” “Tenebre,” and many others. Note: Claudio Simonetti, the keyboardist, was the only original Goblin member on this tour, but the other band members were exceptional musicians.

We got to the Orange Peel early enough to snag a decent spot, as well as one of the few bar stools so we could sit and watch the film. The band took the stage, and got ready to queue up the film.

The film started, and the band played the opening musical sequence, which was hauntingly powerful. I commented to my brother that they had an easy first half of the gig, spending a lot of time sitting and waiting for the next point in the film where music was needed. But I have to say, it was a totally unique concert experience for me, something that is rare for a veteran concertgoer as myself.

After the film ended, they paused briefly before launching into a killer second set, with lots of horror film clips and surreal visuals projected on the screen. The band was really tight, effortlessly flowing through intricate scale runs that rival any prog band. Suffice to say, I was on my feet for the entire second set.

Here is the full setlist, along with some pictures from the show. Rock on!

Set 1: “Suspiria” live screening and soundtrack accompaniment.

  • Suspiria
  • Witch
  • Opening to the Sighs
  • Sighs
  • Markos
  • Black Forest / Blind Concert
  • Death Valzer

Set 2:

  • Mater Lachrymarum
  • Demoni
  • E Suono Rock
  • Roller
  • Dawn of the Dead (L’alba dei Morti Viventi)
  • Zombi
  • Zaratozom
  • Tenebre
  • Phenomena
  • Profondo Rosso

Dweezil Zappa: 10/31/2018

I had seen Dweezil a couple times before, and I had seen his dad, Frank Zappa. Which was why the last few times he came to town, I opted to pass. But this time—Halloween Night! That was something I could not pass up on.

I had bought tickets for me and my friend Dan to go. The Diana Wortham Theatre is a very small venue, so I bought tickets way in advance. We had good seats, second row balcony center, which affords a great view of the stage and excellent sound.

Halloween rolls around, and I get a text from Dan that he is at the hospital with his mom and not sure if he will be able to make it. Of course, I told him no worries, take care of what you need to do. Thankfully, his mom was alright and released after a few hours, so Dan texted me that he was still in and we would meet up before the show.

Since it was Halloween, I sported my Captain Kirk costume. Most of the crowd was also in costume, which added to the general freakiness. We got our seats, chatted for a bit, and then the lights went down and the band took the stage. All the band members except Dweezil were in costume, which was fun. They definitely were having a blast on stage, hamming it up, and of course, playing some incredible music. They played a loooooong time, a solid three hours. And the song selection was definitely worthy of the “Choice Cuts” tour name. They really dug deep into Frank’s vast musical repertoire. Definitely got my money’s worth.

Here’s a few pictures from the show, along with the setlist.

Setlist:

  • The Purple Lagoon (Intro)
  • Andy
  • Honey, Don’t You Want a Man Like Me?
  • Fifty-Fifty
  • Call Any Vegetable
  • Tell Me You Love Me
  • Absolutely Free
  • T’Mershi Duween
  • Dog Breath
  • Dog Meat
  • Sleep Napkins
  • The Black Page Drum Solo
  • The Black Page
  • Halloween – Movie Theme Music (John Carpenter cover)
  • The Torture Never Stops
  • Valley Girl
  • Pygmy Twylyte
  • King Kong
  • Suzy Creamcheese
  • Cocaine Decisions
  • Drowning Witch
  • Sleeping in a Jar
  • Florentine Pogen
  • Zoot Allures
  • Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow
  • Uncle Remus
  • This Town Is a Sealed Tuna Sandwich
  • Keep It Greasey
  • Joe’s Garage

Encore:

  • Oh, In the Sky
  • Cheepnis
  • Return of the Son of Orange County
  • Funky OC
  • Trouble Every Day