The Rolling Stones: 7/3/2019

I will begin this post by saying that this might just be the greatest of all my concert stories so far, and will be tough to top. As such, it is a fairly long post, but I promise you, it is worth the read.

So you may have noticed that the ticket stub has a date of May 31, 2019, which was not the date of the actual concert. If you’ve kept up with current events, you probably know that the entire No Filter tour was postponed because Mick Jagger needed heart surgery. (Who knew he had a heart?) I had bought three tickets for this show, with the intention of going with my wife and daughter. Going to this concert was actually a gift for my daughter’s birthday/graduation, since she had told me that of all the bands that were still touring, the Stones was the one she would most want to see. I suppose I’ve done my job as a rock and roll parent.

Anyway, the Stones rescheduled, and lo and behold, my wife and I had already relocated to California, a long way from Landover, Maryland, where the concert was being held. And since my wife had just started her new job, she could no longer go. So it was decided that I would fly back to North Carolina by myself, pick up my daughter, drive to Virginia, and then give the extra ticket to my nephew, at whose house we would stay. A bit of a logistical challenge, but worth it. I really wanted to make sure my daughter got to see the Stones.

Now is where the story gets really interesting.

About a week before the concert, I woke to an excited text from my daughter. She told me that she was letting people at her job know that she would be out the following week because she was going with her dad to see the Rolling Stones. One of her coworkers replied, “Oh, you’re going to see the Stones? My cousin works for the Rolling Stones. Do you want me to see about getting you backstage passes?” A quick email later, and we had three backstage passes waiting for us at will call. BACKSTAGE PASSES TO THE ROLLING STONES!! I really was having a hard time believing it. But I reread the forwarded text, which had the name of the contact should there be any issue picking up the passes or getting backstage, and was giddy with excitement.

So on July 1 I flew to NC and met my daughter. July 2, the two of us drove 8 hours to VA and connected with my nephew (who is the same age as my daughter and they get along great). Then it was July 3, the day of the show.

FedEx Field, the stadium which is home to the Washington Redskins, was about 30 miles from where we were in VA. The concert was scheduled to start at 7:30, so we left the house at 3:30 to give us plenty of time. I was unprepared for the traffic we encountered. It literally took us 2 ½ hours to get to the stadium. I was trying hard to be cool.

We paid the exorbitant $60 to park, and inquired about where the will call window was located. I was told there were two, one on each side of the stadium. Not knowing where the passes would be, I picked the one that was closest and we got in line. And we stood there. And stood there. The line was not moving and people were freaking out. I later discovered it was because the computers were not working and no one who had tickets at will call could get the tickets they paid for. Now I was feeling worried, because if I got to the window and the passes were on the other side of the stadium, we might have a problem. As I was discussing this with my daughter and nephew, someone near us in line, who was more observant than myself, pointed out that there was another will call window off to the side with a sign that said “Band/Tour Will Call” and suggested I go there. So I did. I walked right up and told the person there that I was supposed to be picking up backstage passes and gave him my name. “I have nothing for that name,” he informed me.

I responded, “C**** was the person who was supposed to give us those.”

“I just spoke with C**** and he didn’t say anything. But I can call him.”

So the guy made a call from his cellphone, I watched as he spoke and nodded, then he took two passes from the drawer and slid them under the window to me. I felt a twinge of panic and meekly mentioned that there was supposed to be three, and he casually got the third and passed it to me. And in my hand I held three backstage passes to the Rolling Stones.

I met back up with my daughter and nephew, and we each affixed our passes.

Right next to the window where I got the passes was the special VIP entrance. We walked up, they looked at our credentials, and we breezed in. Then they scanned our tickets (yes, we still needed the tickets we bought), and were escorted to an elevator that brought us up to the fifth floor. From there, we were led to the VIP lounge that looked down on the back of the stage. Free food and beverages were provided, so we ate and rehydrated, while milling around and chatting with people there.

Now I had never been backstage before, so prior to heading out there, I consulted with a friend of mine, Bill, who is a music journalist, just to know what to expect. He said for show like this, we probably would not meet Keith or Mick. They provide catering, and then usually one of the lesser band members comes out for a quick meet and greet before the show. So in this case, that band member was Chuck Leavell, long-time keyboardist for the Stones, who was also a member of the Allman Brothers in the 70’s. We got to meet him, and he was really nice and accommodating, graciously posing for a picture with the three of us.

At this point, the opening act, Ghost Hounds, had already been playing for a while, so we decided to leave the air conditioned comfort and go take our seats. By the time we got to section 431 in the upper deck, the opening band was playing their last song.

Although we were in the upper deck, the seats were not bad, and we had a decent view of the stage. We chatted with the folks around us as we waited for the Stones to take the stage.

Finally, the lights went down, and they exploded onto the stage, opening with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Great choice! For a group of guys who have survived over 70 years of hard living, and Mick just having heart surgery, they sounded damn good and had a lot of energy.

About halfway through the show, the band moved to a smaller satellite stage in the center and played a couple acoustic tunes, which was great, because then we had an even better view of the band.

All the while, I was noticing how much fun my daughter and nephew were having, and I felt really happy. I was glad that they were enjoying the show, and after going backstage and meeting one of the band members, I knew that this would be a special memory for them both.

But wait… things were about to get infinitely better.

About 2/3 through the show, the band was playing “Miss You” and my daughter was standing up and dancing. She was the only person standing in our section, and I was glad that people around us were not being jerks about it. But then some official looking dude with a lanyard and badge came up to us and waved my daughter closer. The two of them leaned across me so I heard the conversation.

Dude: “How many are in your group?”

Daughter: “Three…” (tentatively, like she was in trouble)

Dude: “Well I only have two passes to go up front. I’m with the band and am looking for someone in the upper decks who is dancing and enjoying the show so I can bring them up front, but I only have two wristbands. Do you want to go up front?”

I looked at my daughter and nephew, not wanting to split them up, or send them off alone, and asked the guy, “You don’t have three?”

“Nope,” he said, “Only two. Do you want them? I can take you up front right now.”

At this point, my nephew spoke up. “Go! Go! This is your chance. I’ll stay here.”

So we promised to come back up and get him afterwards, and went off with the dude who handed each of us a very official looking wristband.

The dude told us we would go up front on Keith’s side of the stage, that this was the best spot to be for the rest of the show. While we were going down, we could hear “Paint It Black” being played, the one song we missed, but a worthwhile sacrifice. We told the dude that C**** had also given us backstage passes, and he was like, “Oh cool, I know C**** really well.” And as we quickly made our way down to the front, my daughter kept looking at me, eyes wide, commenting, “What the fuck? How is this happening? I feel like I’m dreaming.”

We finally got down by the pit right in front, and the security did not want to let my daughter and me through. The dude started yelling at the security guy, flashing his badge, and then he waved someone else over, who said something to the security person, and just like that, we were right in front of the stage. The dude said his farewell, went off, and my daughter and I danced and basked in the glory of seeing the world’s greatest rock and roll band from a vantage point that few have experienced. Of course, I had to snap a few pictures on the phone.

We were up front for the last five songs, which was basically the last quarter of the 20-song show. I’ve been to many concerts in my life, but none of them compared to this experience, of being backstage and then essentially front row, for the Rolling Stones. And the fact that I shared the experience with my daughter, and the look of sheer ecstatic joy on her face, made the whole night seem like nothing less than a rock and roll fantasy come true. Miracles really do happen.

After the last note of “Satisfaction,” my daughter and I made it back upstairs and had no problem reconnecting with my nephew. Then we made our way to the car, sat in the traffic getting out of the stadium parking area, and made the drive back to Virginia with no problems, basically basking in the afterglow of the most epic concert experience ever.

I still have a drawer full of old stubs with stories associated to them, and more concerts on the horizon, but I doubt that I will ever be able to top this one. I suppose the only thing I can add at this point is the setlist. And yes, I know, it’s only rock and roll, but I like it, like it, yes I do!

Setlist:

  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash
  • It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
  • Tumbling Dice
  • You Got Me Rocking
  • Mercy, Mercy (Don Covay & The Goodtimers cover, first time performed since July 5, 1969 at Hyde Park)
  • Rocks Off (by request)
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  • Angie (B-Stage / Acoustic)
  • Let It Bleed (B-Stage / Acoustic)
  • Sympathy for the Devil
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • Slipping Away (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Before They Make Me Run (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Miss You
  • Paint It Black
  • Midnight Rambler
  • Start Me Up
  • Brown Sugar

Encore:

  • Gimme Shelter
  • (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
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Rolling Stones: 11/16/1989

This was the second night of a two-night stand in Miami. The first night, we had great seats close to the front; this night, we were off on the side, which was fine. Different perspective of the massive stage show.

At the time, I was working as a chef and this particular week was extremely busy, so in addition to two Stones concerts, I was also working 60+ hours. That said, after a late night of rock and roll the night before, and then working early in the morning, when we got to the Orange Bowl, I discovered to my dismay that I had forgotten the tickets at home. UGH! Something I am usually very anal about. Thankfully, I had enough time to drive home, get the tickets, and still catch Living Colour, who again opened this show.

During the break between bands, my friend Lydia and I were hanging out and talking, when a young woman in the row in front of us turned around to face us, holding a big magnifying glass in her hand like she was Sherlock Holmes or something. She leaned toward me and proceeded to examine my crotch with her magnifying glass. I was somewhat taken aback. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or offended. So I responded in a way that felt right—I laughed, and so did everyone else around us. Hey, no harm, no foul.

The Stones hit the stage and opened pretty much the same as they did the first night, but they swapped out a few songs, which made it nice. The songs they did this evening and not the first which stood out for me were “Angie” and “Little Red Rooster.” Both total surprises and most welcome. Also, I have to say that the liquid light show that accompanied “2000 Light Years From Home” looked much better from where we were sitting. You need to have a little distance to appreciate that kind of psychedelic imagery.

Anyway, here’s the setlist from the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band…

Setlist:

  • Start Me Up
  • Bitch
  • Sad Sad Sad
  • Undercover of the Night
  • Harlem Shuffle
  • Tumbling Dice
  • Miss You
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Angie
  • Rock and a Hard Place
  • Mixed Emotions
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • Midnight Rambler
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  • Little Red Rooster
  • Can’t Be Seen (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Happy (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Paint It Black
  • 2000 Light Years From Home
  • Sympathy for the Devil
  • Gimme Shelter
  • It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
  • Brown Sugar
  • (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Encore:

  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Rolling Stones: 11/15/1989

This was the first of two nights that the Stones were performing at the Orange Bowl in Miami, and I had tickets to both shows. Living Colour was opening for both shows, so I was really psyched. I really liked Living Colour a lot, so was pumped to see them, almost as much so as I was to see the Stones again.

This particular tour was the Steel Wheels tour. There was a lot of criticism about the band’s age, and the jokes that were going around were referring to it as the “Steel Wheelchairs Tour,” or the “Steal Your Dollars Tour.” The irony is the face value of the ticket was still only $29.50. Try seeing the Stones or anyone for that price anymore.

For this first night, we had amazing seats—13th row! We got there early, engaged in some pre-show festivities, then got our seats. Actually, being a little bit back was perfect. Any closer to the massive stage and it would have been difficult to see.

Living Colour came out first and kicked ass! Vernon Reid was incredible on the guitar, I almost felt like giving up as a guitarist. The energy was so high, I remember thinking after their set: “I’ve seen the Stones before, and I’m not sure they will be able to top this.” Thankfully, I was mistaken.

After a long break, the Stones took the stage and launched in to “Start Me Up.” Perfect opener! After that they went right into “Bitch,” and it was nothing but awesome rock and roll for the rest of the night. When they finished, I marveled at how great they sounded, and how much better they were than when I saw them back in 1981. There were so many great moments, I can’t pick out any high points, though I will say that “Dead Flowers,” “2000 Light Years From Home“ and “Happy” were most welcome surprises.

Here is the full setlist. Check back soon for my thoughts on the second night (hint – some different songs).

Setlist:

  • Start Me Up
  • Bitch
  • Sad Sad Sad
  • Undercover of the Night
  • One Hit (To the Body)
  • Tumbling Dice
  • Miss You
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Play With Fire
  • Dead Flowers
  • Rock and a Hard Place
  • Mixed Emotions
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • Midnight Rambler
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  • Before They Make Me Run (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Happy (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Paint It Black
  • 2000 Light Years From Home
  • Sympathy for the Devil
  • Gimme Shelter
  • It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
  • Brown Sugar
  • (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Encore:

  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Warren Haynes Christmas Jam: 12/21/2002

This was the first of what would be many Christmas Jams for me. Since this date, I have not missed a single Christmas Jam (15 years so far, and counting). The Christmas Jam is a benefit concert hosted by Warren Haynes and happens each year in his hometown of Asheville, NC. All money goes to Habitat for Humanity, and he always has a stellar lineup of musicians, who take turns jamming together in unique combinations. It is heaven for the music enthusiast.

At the time of this show, I had my own business, so I was working a lot. But I took the evening off and went to the show with my wife and business partner. We also bought tickets for staff as a holiday gift, though not all showed up (I think some sold the tickets and pocketed the money).

Anyway, it was a marathon musical evening. I was not able to stay until the end, but I lasted until after 1:00 am. Pretty much, I saw everyone except Gov’t Mule, which was fine with me, since I would see them almost every year after that.

Here is the list of bands and musical guests who performed.

Main Acts:

  • Gov’t Mule
  • Robert Randolph & The Family Band
  • Moe.
  • Bob Weir
  • John Hiatt and The Goners

Special Guests:

  • Rob Barraco
  • DJ Logic
  • Audley Freed
  • Jerry Joseph
  • Col. Bruce Hampton
  • Kevn Kinney
  • Sonny Landreth
  • John Molo
  • Edwin McCain
  • Dave Schools

I tried to find the setlists online, but no luck. High points I remember was Robert Randolph performing “Shake Your Hips” (a Rolling Stones classic) and Bob Weir’s set which included “Shakedown Street,” “Truckin’,” and “The Other One.”

Wish I had more to share. All I can say is it was a great time, and I was hooked on the Christmas Jam after my first taste.

Rock on!

The Radiators: 4/21/1989

Woody’s on the Beach was a Miami South Beach club owned by Ron Wood from the Rolling Stones, and a place where I often went with friends to hear live music and party until the wee hours of the morning. As such, details are often sketchy at best. This show falls into that category. I recall seeing The Rads at Woody’s, and I know I was with a bunch of my friends, but that’s all I can remember.

For those of you who are not familiar with The Radiators, they were one of the coolest New Orleans bands at that time, right up there with the Neville Brothers. I went to see them every opportunity I had, and even had some good bootleg tapes of theirs back in the day when collecting tapes was the thing to do. I have a great memory of driving up to Daytona to catch a free Rads show on the beach with my friend Todd and a couple other folk. Fun times!

Wish I had more to share, but alas, that’s all I got. If anyone out there has a setlist from this show, feel free to add it to the comments.

Buddy Guy: 9/26/2017

Buddy Guy is one of those guitarists that I always wanted to see but for one reason or another, never did — until now. When I heard he was coming to town, I knew I had to go see him. He is advancing in his years and I figured I might not have many more opportunities to see the legend live.

My wife did not want to go with me to this show (she had seen Buddy before), and none of my friends seemed interested, so I bought a single and went by myself. This ended up being fine. The Thomas Wolfe Auditorium was only about 2/3 full, so I went and got a better seat up on the balcony very close to the stage.

The show opened with a performance by a band called Blackfoot Gypsies. The band was comprised of three young white dudes and an older black man on the harmonica. They were pretty good. Obviously, the white guys were raised on a steady diet of Stones and Black Crowes, which reflected in their playing and stage attire. Not the best opening act I’ve seen, but definitely not the worst either.

Finally, Buddy came out and opened with “Damn Right I Got the Blues.” I was immediately impressed by his playing and by how energetic he was on stage. For a man in his 80’s, he played and moved like someone half his age. He played guitar with drum sticks, walked out into the crowd while playing, and channeled Hendrix by playing with his teeth and behind his back. All the while, exhibiting superb musicianship.

I was unable to locate a setlist from this show, so I will just say he did a great mix of his own stuff (including his work with Junior Wells) and some great blues covers. He played songs from Clapton, Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles, and Muddy Waters, but gave each rendition his own unique style and sound.

If you have the opportunity to see Buddy Guy live, I highly recommend doing so. He is an incredible musician and an outstanding performer.

Ron Wood and Bo Diddley: 6/22/1988

wooddiddley_6-22-88

As I mentioned in my previous post about the first night of the two-night stand, my memories of the numerous shows I saw at Woody’s on the Beach are somewhat vague, but this night I remember well. Ron and Bo were particularly pumped and they broke into some classic Stones tunes, as well as some Faces. And while Ronnie Wood is not a great singer by any stretch, watching him sing “Honky Tonk Women” and mimicking the snorting of cocaine with his big nose while croaking out “She blew my nose and then she blew my mind” is a rock and roll image that is forever burned into my memory.

The Faces medley was also quite an experience for me. The first concert I ever attended was Rod Stewart and the Faces, way back when (unfortunately, I do not have that stub). So seeing Ron jam on these tunes connected me with my concert christening.

Finally, the gunslingers closed the show with a smokin’ version of “Hey! Bo Diddley.” I could not think of a better song to wrap up two nights of rock, rhythm and blues.

Here is the full setlist.


Setlist:

  • Crackin’ Up
  • I’m a Man
  • Money to Ronnie
  • Around the Plynth > Prodigal Son > Gasoline Alley > Little Red Rooster
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • Black Limousine
  • Bo Diddley’s A Gunslinger
  • You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover
  • It’s All Over Now
  • Hey! Bo Diddley