Grateful Dead: 10/14/1988

This was the first night of a three-night run of shows. I would see the Dead on October 15 and 16 in St. Petersburg, FL, and those nights I remember, but for some strange reason, I have no recollection of this first show in Miami. No idea why that is. Anyway, I can only assume that I hung out with my Deadhead friends and had a real good time. In the morning after the show, I would be heading up to St. Pete with my friends Armando and Tim, and we had a bit of an adventure. More to come on that one. For now, all I have left to share about this show is the setlist. Rock on!

Set 1:

  • Touch of Grey
  • Minglewood Blues
  • Row Jimmy Row
  • It’s All Over Now
  • Brown-Eyed Women
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece
  • Bird Song
  • Promised Land

Set 2:

  • China Cat Sunflower
  • I Know You Rider
  • Saint of Circumstance
  • He’s Gone
  • Drums > Space
  • Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
  • I Need a Miracle
  • Dear Mr. Fantasy
  • Hey Jude

Encore:

  • Black Muddy River

Blue Oyster Cult, Foghat, and Whitford/St. Holmes: 10/9/1981

Here is why it was so cool growing up in the 70s and 80s. A great triple bill for a whopping $9.00! Even though I had seen Blue Oyster Cult earlier in 1981 with Heart, I could not pass up on this one.

First to play was Whitford/St. Holmes, a band comprised of Brad Whitford from Aerosmith and Derek St. Holmes from Ted Nugent’s band. This was one of those moments in rock history, where I had the chance to see a band that really was not around very long, but was very cool.

Next up was Foghat, and if memory serves me well, this was the first time I saw them. I admit I was into Foghat as a teenager, so seeing them live was a big deal for me (I would see them more times than I care to admit afterwards). They played a short, tight set that included all their hits, and the generally intolerant Sportatorium crowd was appreciative.

Then came BOC. As always, they were nothing short of excellent. This was the Fire of Unknown Origin tour, which was definitely a high point in the band’s career. I have some distinct memories from this performance, like the amazing version of “Godzilla” and “Roadhouse Blues” for the encore, at the end of which Buck Dharma systematically popped his guitar strings one by one during the closing solo, grasping and tearing the last string as the final note decayed. It was rock and roll at its finest.

So as I was researching this show online and I found the setlists for Foghat and BOC, I discovered something ultra-cool. It seems that “The Red &The Black”, “Joan Crawford”, “Burnin’ For You”, “Godzilla”, “Veterans of the Psychic Wars” and “E.T.I (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)” were all recorded at this show and released on the Extraterrestrial Live album (here is track list on Wikipedia). Once this Shelter-in-Place restriction is lifted, I will definitely be scouring the record stores to get a copy of this.

Anyway, here are the setlists. Rock on!

Foghat Setlist:

  • Stone Blue
  • My Babe
  • Eight Days on the Road
  • Wide Boy
  • Fool for the City
  • Third Time Lucky (First Time I Was a Fool)
  • Honey Hush
  • Live Now Pay Later
  • Slow Ride
  • I Just Want to Make Love to You

Blue Oyster Cult Setlist:

  • The Red & the Black
  • E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
  • Joan Crawford
  • Burnin’ for You
  • Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll
  • Veteran of the Psychic Wars
  • ME 262
  • Godzilla
  • Born to Be Wild

Encore:

  • (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
  • Roadhouse Blues

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

Dark Star Orchestra: 2/12/2009

So I have to confess that ever since the COVID-19 crisis hit I have grappled with whether or not to post about my concert memories. It just seemed like rubbing salt into a wound, because in spite of all the great streaming performances that are being made available, for me, there is nothing quite like being at a live concert, and this is what has been the most difficult for me during these five weeks of social distancing (so far). I really miss going to concerts, and if you are reading my blog, I can only assume you feel the same. But a fellow blogger encouraged me to start posting again (thanks Barb), and also, there seems to be a glimmer of hope that some restrictions may be eased soon. So, here we go.

For a long time I was reluctant to go see Dark Star Orchestra. Having seen the Grateful Dead many, many times, and having been in a “Grateful Dead tribute band” for several years, it just did not call to me. But at the encouragement of a good friend, I decided to go and check them out. And I’m glad I did. They are exceptionally good musicians, and the crowd was very appreciative. Let’s face it, the crowd can make or break a concert. Music is a reciprocal art form, where the artists and the audience feed off each other and create a unique energetic experience. And DSO definitely was able to make that connection with the Orange Peel crowd. I danced and grooved with all the other freaks, and everyone just had a real good time. Sometimes, that’s all we need.

I really hope we can all start gathering at concerts again in the near future. Heck, I have tickets to see Alanis Morissette with Liz Phair and Garbage in June. The show still has not been cancelled or postponed. Hope springs eternal.

Please let me know if you want to hear more concert stories in these days of social distancing. I still have plenty of stubs and stories to share.

Stay safe, and may music soothe your mortal soul.

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

George Thorogood and the Destroyers: 3/31/1983

This was my second time seeing George Thorogood (click here to read about the first time). He was great both times. There is not a whole lot to say; George is just fun, straight-ahead rockin’ blues. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, just wants to play guitar and have a good time. And that is exactly what his concerts are like, just a good time.

I was not able to find the setlist from this particular show, but I did find one from the same tour when he played in Salem, OR. While 1983 was a long time ago, this seems pretty consistent with what I remember from this show, so here it is. Rock it on over…

Setlist

  • The House of Blue Lights
  • Who Do You Love?
  • I’m Wanted
  • Cocaine Blues
  • Wanted Man
  • Bad to the Bone
  • Move It on Over
  • The Sky Is Crying
  • Madison Blues
  • El Paso
  • It Wasn’t Me
  • Willie and the Hand Jive
  • Night Time
  • No Particular Place to Go

Encore:

  • One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
  • Nobody but Me
  • Wild Weekend

MoogFest: 10/29/2010

This stub was from the first MoogFest held in Asheville, NC. I went with my wife and our older daughter, who was very excited that MGMT was performing. I was unfamiliar with MGMT, but my daughter gave me some of their music to listen to, and it was very cool. Anyway, we got tickets only for the first night of the three-day festival.

There were more bands playing than we had the opportunity to see, and of the ones we did see, some of them we only caught part of their sets, since the festival was taking place at multiple venues (Civic Center, Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Orange Peel). Of the bands that performed on the Friday night, these are the ones we got to see:

  • DEVO
  • MGMT
  • Big Boi
  • Girl Talk
  • The Octopus Project

Couple things to note. One of members of DEVO had a death in the family and could not attend, so the remaining members performed with Octopus Project, which was cool. Big Boi we only caught a couple songs. MGMT was definitely the high point. We went up fairly close (they were playing in the Civic Center). It was general admission with an open floor, so lots of freaks dancing to the music. My daughter had a friend with her, and the two of them were psyched. It made my wife and me very happy to be there and to see them having so much fun. Live music is such a great bonding experience.

At the time, I was not a huge fan of electronic music and hip hop, but I really enjoyed the energy and the light shows were mind-boggling. I made a promise to myself that next year, I would go all three days. And I kept that promise to myself. I’ll try to dig up my stub from that show and post on it soon.

Donna the Buffalo: 02/02/2007

Donna the Buffalo has one of the punniest tag lines: “Herd of ‘em?” This was actually the second time I had “herd ‘em” perform live, but the first time was a bit of a bummer. They were playing at the Lake Eden Arts Festival, and I had agreed to volunteer in order to get a free pass, and just my luck, my volunteer slot was right when Donna the Buffalo were on stage, so I got to hear them, and was able to sneak off for one song, but did not get the full experience. Which was why I was psyched to see them at the Orange Peel.

I ended up going to this one on my own, but it was cool. I had a great time. The music was awesome and the crowd was energized. I danced with all the hippies, and only had to relocate once when a guy who was near me kept flogging me with his nappy dreads.

Here’s the setlist. Jam on!

Setlist:

  • Movin’ On
  • Living In Babylon
  • Voice In My Head
  • Locket And Key >
  • Family Picture
  • Garden Of Eden
  • Conscious Evolution
  • Tides Of Time
  • If You Were To Love Me
  • Temporary Misery
  • Blue Sky
  • Hey Trudy
  • Killing A Man
  • If You Only Could
  • Every Day
  • I Don’t Need A Riddle
  • Hot Tamale Baby
  • Tomorrow Still Knows
  • No Place Like The Right Time

Encore:

  • 40 Days & 40 Nights
  • Let Love Move Me

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.