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)

Jeff Lynne’s ELO and Dhani Harrison: 6/24/2019

Some of you may have noticed that I have not posted in a while. That’s because I moved and am now a California dude. And what better way to get settled into a new state than by going to see a concert.

Electric Light Orchestra has been on my short list of bands I want to see but have not had the opportunity. I can now check them off the list. I managed to get tickets for my wife and I, which were cheap seats way in the back, but this actually worked out for the best, because the light show was mind-blowing.

Anyway, getting ahead of myself.

Dhani Harrison opened the show. If his name seems familiar, yes, he’s George Harrison’s son, and quite a good musician. His songs were cool and he had a unique sound, but his voice definitely sounded like his dad’s on a few songs. It was nice to have an opener who was actually good.

After a brief intermission, ELO took the stage. Wow! Incredible sound, even in a big arena. And the lights—mesmerizing. But what was most astonishing about the show was just how many hits they had. I recognized every song, and they played a long time. The band was comprised of multiple keyboardists, cellists, a violinist, and stellar backing vocals, so every song they played sounded spot on. Even “Xanadu,” my least favorite ELO tune, was cool.

Another treat was when Dhani Harrison joined ELO on stage and performed “Handle with Care” by the Traveling Wilburys. He nailed his dad’s part, and the vibe was just really good.

I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of shows here on the west coast. For now, here’s the setlist from this one. Rock on!

  • Standin’ in the Rain
  • Evil Woman
  • All Over the World
  • Showdown
  • Do Ya
  • When I Was a Boy
  • Livin’ Thing
  • Handle With Care (with Dhani Harrison)
  • Last Train to London
  • Rockaria!
  • Xanadu
  • 10538 Overture
  • Shine a Little Love
  • Wild West Hero
  • Sweet Talkin’ Woman
  • Telephone Line
  • Don’t Bring Me Down
  • Turn to Stone
  • Mr. Blue Sky

Encore:

  • Roll Over Beethoven

Progressive Nation Tour – featuring Dream Theater and Zappa Plays Zappa: 7/29/2009

This was a pretty cool show. As a guitarist, getting to see John Petrucci and Dweezil Zappa on the same night was inspiring.

I went with my friend and bandmate, Bill (who is a keyboardist/vocalist). We got to the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium early enough to catch the first of the four acts, a band called Scale the Summit. I was unable to determine whether they were good or not, because they were so loud and distorted, I could not make out any of the music. Now I’m not one to shy away from some loud rock and roll, but these dudes were just painful. We ended up hanging out in the lobby until they were done.

Next up was a band called Bigelf. Neither of us had heard of them before, but we were both impressed. Not only did they sound great, but they had amazing stage presence. I highly recommend checking these guys out if you have not heard them.

After Bigelf, Zappa Plays Zappa took the stage, and they were incredible. Dweezil is really able to pull off his dad’s intricate and complex music, and make it look effortless. Additionally, he had a large screen behind the stage, and during several songs, they had video and audio of Frank performing and the band accompanied the virtual performance. It was very cool, and a nice nod to his dad’s genius.

Topping off the evening was Dream Theater. I was enjoying them, but the grimace on my friend’s face let me know he did not find them as interesting as I did. While he conceded that Petrucci is a “frighteningly good guitarist,” he said the singer was too screamo and he found that irritating. A fair critique. I was not impressed by the singer, but I was not bothered either.

Anyway, here are the setlists from all except the opening act. Rock on!

Dream Theater Setlist:

  • A Nightmare to Remember
  • Constant Motion
  • Beyond This Life
  • Hollow Years
  • Keyboard Solo
  • Erotomania
  • Voices
  • The Count of Tuscany

Encore:

  • Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper

Zappa Plays Zappa Setlist:

  • Peaches en Regalia
  • Inca Roads
  • Montana
  • Village of the Sun
  • Echidna’s Arf (Of You)
  • Magic Fingers
  • Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy
  • The Black Page
  • A Pound for a Brown on the Bus
  • San Ber’dino
  • Willie the Pimp

Bigelf Setlist (from Atlanta):

  • The Evils of Rock & Roll
  • Neuropsychopathic Eye
  • Pain Killers
  • Blackball
  • Hydra

MoogFest: 10/26 – 27/2012

This was the final MoogFest held in Asheville, which is sad because Asheville was home to the late music innovator, Bob Moog, inventor of the famous Moog Synthesizer. The Moog factory is still here, and every Moog instrument—synthesizer, theremin, and effects pedal—is designed and manufactured right here. So even though this lineup was weak compared to the previous festivals, I went anyway, and did get to see some cool performances that I would never have seen otherwise.

MoogFest is a showcase of electronic music, and has performers from many genres, everything from prog to rap to new wave to DJs. It is really a big celebration of creativity and technology in music. In addition to performances, there were workshops and discussions and exhibits, everything to make a music-nerd’s heart skip beats.

So here are the acts that I recall seeing:

  • Santigold
  • Thomas Dolby
  • Primus (in 3-D)
  • Miike Snow
  • Morton Subotnick
  • Squarepusher
  • Divine Fits
  • Orbital
  • Four Tet

Primus was disappointing. I’m not a Primus fan, but had hoped for a cool show based upon all the hype, but they were barely mediocre. The high points were definitely Santigold, Thomas Dolby, Divine Fits, Miike Snow, and Morton Subotnick. They were all excellent.

I was only able to find a few setlists online, so here they are.

Santigold:

  • GO!
  • L.E.S. Artistes
  • Lights Out
  • Say Aha
  • Get It Up
  • Disparate Youth
  • Anne
  • The Keepers
  • Creator
  • Fame
  • Shove It
  • Freak Like Me
  • Big Mouth

Primus:

  • Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers
  • Prelude to a Crawl
  • Last Salmon Man
  • Southbound Pachyderm
  • Eternal Consumption Engine
  • Jilly’s on Smack
  • Over the Falls
  • Hello Skinny
  • Lee Van Cleef
  • Eyes of the Squirrel
  • Groundhog’s Day
  • American Life
  • Hamburger Train
  • Tommy the Cat

Orbital:

  • One Big Moment
  • Halcyon + On + On
  • Beelzedub
  • Never
  • Wonky
  • Where Is It Going?
  • Impact (The Earth Is Burning)
  • Lush 3

Jethro Tull: 4/30/2002

I’m pretty sure this was my first concert after moving to Asheville, although I might have seen Moe Tucker from the Velvet Underground first (I don’t have a stub from that show and I can’t recall when it was). Anyway, I’ve always been a Tull fan, so I figured I had to go and see them again. I hate to say it, but I was disappointed.

Having seen Jethro Tull in the late 70s, it was tough to live up to that experience. Even so, this performance was just downright sad, in my opinion.

I went by myself, since funds were tight at that time and my wife opted to pass. So I was very focused on the band’s playing, which seemed to lack enthusiasm, especially on the standards. It was almost like, “Yeah, here’s your Cross-Eyed Mary.” There were a few exceptions, most notably was “Pibroch (Cap in Hand),” which I thought was great. Martin Barre’s guitar work on that one was phenomenal. But by the time the show was over, I was yawning. As I exited alone, I recalled an article I had read years back that criticized Tull and called them Jethro Dull. I felt a little sad that the creative and powerful prog rockers that were such a huge part of my musical upbringing had lost their edge. It happens.

I would go on to see Ian Anderson solo, and Martin Barre solo too after this, and I really enjoyed both of those. If the band reunited, I’d consider seeing them again, just on the hope that they might rekindle their earlier spark.

Here’s the setlist from the show.

Setlist:

  • Aqua-Intro
  • Living in the Past
  • Cross-Eyed Mary
  • Roots to Branches
  • Jack-in-the-Green
  • Thick as a Brick
  • Hunt by Numbers
  • Elegy
  • A Song for Jeffrey
  • The Water Carrier
  • The Secret Language of Birds
  • Wond’ring Aloud
  • Pibroch (Cap in Hand)
  • A New Day Yesterday
  • Boris Dancing
  • Budapest
  • Mayhem Jig
  • Aqualung
  • Locomotive Breath
  • Sweet Dream
  • Protect and Survive
  • Cheerio

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

King Crimson: 2/28/2003

For me, King Crimson sort of holds a mythical place in the world of rock music. They were definitely at the forefront of the prog movement, so when I saw they were coming to town, and playing a very small venue, I didn’t hesitate to grab tickets. My brother also wanted to go, so I grabbed a ticket for him and made plans for him to come to town for the concert.

This show was part of the Power To Believe tour. The album and tour featured some incredible musicians:

  • Robert Fripp – guitar, mastering, production
  • Adrian Belew – guitar, vocals, lyrics
  • Pat Mastelotto – electronic drumming, hybrid acoustic
  • Trey Gunn – Warr guitar

I had seen Adrian Belew perform with David Bowie, and he was amazing, so I was looking forward to seeing him again. And as a guitarist, I was really psyched to see the legendary Robert Fripp.

The concert was somewhat short, but the quality of the music made up for that. Technically, they were as impressive as I expected them to be. Fripp was a little strange, and occasionally would walk off stage for reasons unknown, but he always returned and stoically ripped through his scales.

The only thing that was a little disappointing for me was that the song choice was limited to three albums:   The Power to Believe, The ConstruKction of Light, and THRAK. I really thought they would do at least one song from Discipline, and I would have loved to see them play “21st Century Schizoid Man,” but alas—Fripp plays what Fripp wants to play. Anyway, it was still a killer show. Here’s the setlist.

Setlist:

  • The ConstruKction of Light
  • ProzaKc Blues
  • The Power to Believe I: A Cappella
  • Level Five
  • Eyes Wide Open
  • EleKtriK
  • Happy With What You Have to Be Happy With
  • The Power to Believe II: Power Circle
  • Facts of Life
  • The World’s My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum
  • Dangerous Curves
  • Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (Part IV)

Encore:

  • The Power to Believe III: Deception of the Thrush
  • VROOOM
  • Dinosaur