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

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

Stevie Nicks and Joe Walsh: 11/5/1983

This was a pretty cool double bill, and it was during that period in the 80s when Stevie Nicks was enjoying a solid solo career. It was part of the Wild Heart tour.

We had seats behind the stage, but it was the Sportatorium in the 80s, so essentially you went and sat wherever you wanted (unless someone bigger than you with a ticket claimed the seat). We managed to secure some seats about halfway back on the side, which were decent.

Joe Walsh opened the show, and he was wasted. He slurred his words and was pretty sloppy. This would not be the only time I would see Walsh trashed on stage. He earned his reputation as a lush.

After a break, Stevie came out. She had a tent set up on stage, and I would soon discover what the tent was for. Frequently, between songs, she would go off into the tent, and after a while, come back out wearing a new dress. I don’t mind a couple costume changes, but she was definitely taking advantage. In addition, she would take what seemed like an unusually long time to change her outfit. I couldn’t help wondering if she was powdering her nose also while in there, so to speak.

In spite of the drunkenness and the interminable breaks between songs, it was still a good show. Here are the respective setlists.

Joe Walsh Setlist

  • Rocky Mountain Way
  • Ordinary Average Guy
  • The Confessor
  • Walk Away
  • A Life of Illusion
  • Life’s Been Good

Stevie Nicks Setlist

  • Gold Dust Woman
  • Outside the Rain
  • Dreams
  • I Need to Know
  • Sara
  • If Anyone Falls
  • Leather and Lace
  • Stand Back
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Gypsy
  • How Still My Love
  • Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
  • Edge of Seventeen

Encore:

  • Rhiannon

The Firm: 3/15/1986

Those of you who missed the 80’s (or just have a cloudy memory) may need a little info on The Firm. They were a supergroup comprised of some very notable musicians:

  • Paul Rodgers on lead vocals (from Free and Bad Company)
  • Jimmy Page on guitar (from The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin)
  • Chris Slade on drums (from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Uriah Heep, and AC/DC)
  • Tony Franklin on bass (from Roy Harper, John Sykes’ Blue Murder, David Gilmour, Kate Bush, and Whitesnake)

I went to this show with my friend Mike. Since we were both young guitarists, we were pretty psyched to see the legendary Jimmy Page.

What I remember about the performance was that they were awesome. I personally would have liked to have seen them do a Led Zeppelin tune, but alas. Page did do a really cool guitar solo, though, using the violin bow, with a pyramid of lasers encasing him, reminiscent of the solo featured in “The Song Remains the Same” movie. That was the high point for me.

After the show, we were making the long drive back from the Sportatorium along the two-lane road that took you out of the boonies and back to civilization. We saw two young women hitchhiking, so we picked them up. Mike immediately began chatting them up, clearly hoping to get lucky. When he asked them what they were into, one of them replied, “We’re into each other,” and began making out in the back seat. We could respect that. We drove them as far as we could and dropped them off, then headed home to recover from the killer night of rock and roll.

Here is the setlist, courtesy of the internet.

Setlist

  • Fortune Hunter
  • Closer
  • Someone to Love
  • Make or Break
  • Prelude (Chopin)
  • Money Can’t Buy
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed
  • Radioactive
  • Live in Peace
  • All the King’s Horses
  • The Chase
  • Cadillac
  • Midnight Moonlight
  • You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’

Cowboy Junkies: 3/2/2018

Cowboy Junkies are one of those bands that occupy a special place in my past. During the early years of our marriage, my wife and I would listen to them quite a bit. So when I saw they were coming in concert and playing the Diana Wortham Theater (a wonderful, intimate venue), I did not hesitate getting tickets for my wife and I.

I went with our eldest daughter (who was in town for the holidays) to purchase the tickets. Because I was buying well in advance, there were plenty of seats to choose from. I picked first row balcony right in the center, which proved to be amazing seats.

My wife and I got there shortly before showtime, and found our seats. Right next to us was a taper, so we talked with him a bit and he let us know that he would be uploading the show to archive.org. I found the show there, but have not listened to it (yet).

The lights went down and the show started, pretty much right on time. The band sounded great, and the acoustics were so perfect, you could hear everything beautifully. And Margo Timmins’ voice—as lovely as it was 30 years ago.

They played two solid sets and an encore. The songs were interspersed with some great stories. When the show was over, I left feeling uplifted, inspired, and happily nostalgic. Here are the set lists.

Set One:

  • I Don’t Get It
  • ‘Cause Cheap Is How I Feel
  • Mountain Stream
  • Missing Children
  • Southern Rain
  • 3rd Crusade
  • Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning
  • Escape Is So Simple
  • We Are The Selfish Ones

Set Two:

  • He Will Call You Baby
  • A Common Disaster
  • 200 More Miles
  • Lay It Down
  • Something More Besides You
  • Black Eyed Man
  • Lungs
  • Misguided Angel
  • I’m So Open
  • Sweet Jane
  • Blue Moon Revisited (Song For Elvis)

Encore:

  • Postcard Blues
  • Good Friday

Cher: 1/26/2018

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless it is seeing Cher. That’s definitely worth sharing (pun intended).

I had never been to Las Vegas; it was just not something that appealed to me. But when my wife said she was going there for a conference and asked if I was interested in going with her to check it out, I figured why not. I reckoned I could see a few shows and then check Vegas off my bucket list. I looked online for shows and saw that Santana was playing the House of Blues on Saturday, January 27, so I bought tickets for that (thoughts on that show coming soon). Anyway, a couple days before we were to fly out there, I checked again to see what other shows might be of interest, and I discovered Cher was playing too! The caveat was that it was Friday night, the night we arrived, and it would be very tight trying to make it. I figured I would hold off on buying tickets, and see if the stars aligned.

Our flight was scheduled to land at 6:00 pm, but actually landed a little early. We got our bags without a hitch, caught a Super Shuttle, and were at the hotel by 7:00. We quickly checked in, dropped bags in the room, and caught a cab in front of the hotel. We got to the Park Theater at the Monte Carlo with time to spare, bought a couple tickets from the box office, and were in our seats well before the curtains came up. The stars had aligned!

What can I say about the show? At 71, Cher still looks and sounds amazing. The stage show was over-the-top, but I kind of expected that from a Vegas show. Video screens, floats, dancers and acrobats: it was the whole shebang. And I had forgotten just how many hits Cher had. It was like a journey through the past. Everything was perfectly choreographed, sound was great; there was nothing weak about this show at all. High points for me were “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves,” and “I Got You Babe,” where Cher sang along with a synchronized video of Sonny. It was quite moving.

I can’t imagine that Cher would do a full tour again, but you never know. That said, if you are in Vegas and have a chance to see her, I highly recommend it. Even if you are not a huge fan of her music, she puts on a great show, and is definitely a musical and pop culture icon.

Here’s the setlist.

Setlist:

  • Woman’s World
  • Strong Enough
  • All or Nothing
  • The Beat Goes On
  • All I Really Want to Do
  • I Got You Babe
  • Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves
  • Dark Lady
  • Half-Breed
  • Welcome to Burlesque
  • Take Me Home
  • After All
  • Walking in Memphis
  • The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)
  • I Found Someone
  • If I Could Turn Back Time

Encore:

  • Believe

Robert Plant & the Band of Joy: 1/18/2011

Robert Plant is one of those musicians that I just have to see any time I have the opportunity, so when he announced a show at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium—a small, intimate venue—I made sure I got tickets right away.

The Band of Joy included some amazing musicians backing Plant:

  • Marco Giovino – drums, percussion, vocals
  • Patty Griffin – vocals, guitar
  • Byron House – bass
  • Buddy Miller – guitar, vocals
  • Darrell Scott – vocals, mandolin, guitar, accordion, pedals, lap steel guitar, banjo

Anyway, I went with my wife to this show, and we had pretty good seats: orchestra center. The North Mississippi Allstars opened the show, and they were good. These days, it’s always a bonus when you have a solid opening act.

Finally, Plant came out, and not surprising, he sounded great. He just has a presence about him (pun intended). He played a great mix of Zep tunes, solo stuff, and some covers. The band was tight and it was just an all-around great show.

There was a strange incident, though. As the band was finishing up, and they were all standing together in a row on stage, ready to take the collective bow, some jackass jumped up on stage to get his picture taken with Plant and the band. Plant gracefully played it down and asked if they got the picture, but I  thought it was kind of uncool. I will say that since then (now seven years), Plant has not come back to Asheville. I can only hope that it is coincidence and that he is not pissed at the city. I do hope he comes back. I would definitely go see him again.

Here is the full setlist from the show.

Setlist

  • Down to the Sea
  • House of Cards
  • Angel Dance
  • Please Read the Letter
  • Monkey
  • Twelve Gates to the City / Wade in the Water / In My Time of Dying
  • Tangerine
  • Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go
  • A Satisfied Mind
  • Move Up
  • Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down
  • Central Two-O-Nine
  • Houses of the Holy
  • Tall Cool One
  • You Can’t Buy My Love
  • Ramble On
  • Gallows Pole

Encore:

  • Harm’s Swift Way
  • Rock and Roll
  • And We Bid You Goodnight

Ian Anderson: 9/28/2012

I’m a long-time Jethro Tull fan, and grew up listening to Tull, so when I saw that Ian Anderson was coming to town to perform “Thick as a Brick: Parts 1 and 2” in their entirety, there was not even a question of whether I would go or not. I purchased tickets for my wife and I, and began to familiarize myself with the new “Thick as a Brick: Pt 2” that had just been released. It is good, but alas, not as good as the first one—it’s tough to match a masterpiece.

We had good seats, orchestra center, and the venue was nice and intimate. Ian came out with his band and broke right into the classic first album of TaaB. I was basically mesmerized. Ian did not sing the whole time; he had a young singer with him who filled in on the more challenging vocal parts. I thought this was a good move on Ian’s part. I’m pretty sure he suffers from hearing loss and struggles with some of the vocal parts.

But his flute playing, still phenomenal! He was flamboyant and animated every time he raised that flute to his chin. There is no one in the world who rocks the flute like he does.

After part 1, there was an intermission before part 2. During the intermission, there was a humorous shadow performance which served as a Public Service Announcement, encouraging men to get checked for prostate cancer. Something us old rockers gotta do!

Part 2 was great, but again, I love the original TaaB, so it was not quite as moving for me as the first half.

For an encore, they performed “Locomotive Breath.” Perfect song to close the night!

Overall, this was a great show, better in fact than the last time I saw Tull, in my humble opinion. The only thing lacking was it would have been cool if Martin Barre was on guitar (I do love Martin’s playing). But the guitarist Ian had was no slouch. Left totally happy.

Rock on!!

Steve Winwood: 5/9/2017

Steve Winwood was high on my short list of bands/musicians that I had not seen but wanted to see live. So when I saw that he was coming to Greenville, which is about an hour’s drive, I got tickets for my wife and I to go. It was a good thing that I bought them early because the show sold out quickly.

I had never been to the Peace Center, but I heard it was a very nice venue with excellent acoustics. We got there a little before showtime (it was a Tuesday so work prevented us from heading down there early). The first thing was had to deal with was parking. All the public lots were full, which forced us to go for one of the private lots. The woman there collecting money said “$20.” I responded: “$20!?!” She said “Yes, concert is sold out.” Talk about price gouging. I grudgingly paid the exorbitant fee and parked the car. We then walked over to the Peace Center.

The first thing I noticed was the crowd. I felt like the youngest person there, and my thinning grey hair is a clear indicator that I am no spring chicken, but these folks made me feel like I was at a concert with all my aunts and uncles. And they were all dressed up like they were going to the symphony. I looked at my tee shirt and felt oddly out of place; but I didn’t care all that much. I was there for the music, not for a fashion show.

Lilly Winwood. Steve’s daughter, opened the show. She was very good, not just someone riding her famous dad’s coattails. Her songs were interesting and her voice was powerful. I was impressed.

Then Steve came out, and as I expected, he was amazing. His vocals and his musicianship were stellar, and his backing band was solid. He played a nice selection of songs spanning his entire career, from Spenser Davis through his solo works. In fact, the only song I wanted to hear that he didn’t play was “John Barleycorn,” but it was an extremely minor disappointment in light of all the other great music he played that evening.

Toward the end of the show, his daughter came on stage and provided some backing vocals, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice to see father and daughter together, and her voice really added to the songs on which she sang.

Here is the full setlist.

 

Setlist:

  • Back in the High Life Again
  • Pearly Queen
  • I’m a Man
  • Fly
  • Them Changes
  • Can’t Find My Way Home
  • Had to Cry Today
  • The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
  • Empty Pages
  • Light Up or Leave Me Alone
  • Higher Love (with Lilly Winwood)

Encore:

  • Dear Mr. Fantasy
  • Gimme Some Lovin’ (with Lilly Winwood)

Martin Barre: 3/24/2017

Martin Barre is the guitarist from Jethro Tull, and since Tull is on an extended hiatus, he is performing solo with a backing band.

I had planned to go to this concert with my youngest daughter, who really likes Jethro Tull (proof I’ve raised my kids right), but she was unfortunately sick and could not muster the strength to go, so my friend Dan acquired my extra, and he and his significant other Angie joined me for the show.

First, I want to say that at 70 years old, Martin is as great of a guitarist as he was when I saw Jethro Tull for the first time in the late 70’s. His technical performance, tone, and energy were those of someone half his age. There was also a maturity in his playing, and I mean that in only the best sense of the word.

There was no opening act, and the band played two sets and an encore. Early in the first set, they played “Minstrel in the Gallery,” probably my favorite Tull song. I have seen Tull three times and the only time they played “Minstrel” was as an encore the first time I saw them, so hearing Martin and his band play it was amazing for me. After the song, I told Dan I could leave now and be happy. But I’m glad I stayed. The rest of the night was packed with incredible music, including an abundance of Tull songs and some really nice cover tunes (see setlist below).

After the show, I went out to my car and grabbed my record cover of “Minstrel in the Gallery,” which I brought with me in the hopes of getting autographed. I waited around with the other old rockers (a reference to a Tull song here) and after a short while, Martin came out to sign autographs. When it was my turn to meet him, I told him that I had attended a guitar clinic that he hosted at Ace Music in Miami many years ago. He clearly remembered the clinic and shared his memories of staying at the Fontainebleau Hotel. He was really pleasant and friendly, and I left feeling grateful to have met someone whose music was so inspiring to me throughout my life.

Here is the setlist, and remember, you’re never too old to rock and roll if you’re too young to die.

Set 1

  • Hammer
  • To Cry You a Song
  • Minstrel in the Gallery
  • Steal Your Heart Away
  • Back to Steel
  • Love Story
  • After You After Me
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
  • Sweet Dream
  • Sealion
  • Thick as a Brick

Set 2

  • Blackest Eyes
  • Nothing to Say
  • Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day
  • Cross Road Blues
  • Bad Man
  • A Song for Jeffrey
  • Moment of Madness
  • Teacher
  • Fat Man
  • A New Day Yesterday

Encore:

  • Locomotive Breath