Def Leppard and Ratt: 5/20/1983

I had seen Def Leppard open for Ozzy on the Blizzard of Ozz tour, which was cool. But “Pyromania” was the band’s mega-album, so this was a tour worth seeing.

My girlfriend at the time really wanted to go to the show, and I was totally down for it, especially for $10. I thought “Pyromania” was a great album, even though I could tell the band was going down the commercial pathway. And I was right, and to date, this would be my last time seeing them live.

I had no recollection of the opening act, but according to what I found online, Ratt was the opener. Hah! I went most of my life thinking I had avoided seeing Ratt in concert. I suppose it’s another band I can now check off the list.

Def Leppard definitely rocked. This show was a long time ago, so many of the details are gone, but I remember parts of it vividly, including the kick-ass version of Creedence’s “Travelin’ Band.” Glad I got to see them at their peak. Rock on!!

Setlist:

  • Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)
  • Rock Brigade
  • High & Dry (Saturday Night)
  • Another Hit and Run
  • Billy’s Got a Gun
  • Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)
  • Foolin’
  • Photograph
  • Rock of Ages
  • Bringin’ on the Heartbreak
  • Switch 625
  • Guitar Solo
  • Let It Go
  • Guitar Solo
  • Wasted
  • Stagefright
  • Travelin’ Band
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Alice Cooper: 12/31/1998

What better way to rock in the New Year than with Alice Cooper, right? But wait – it gets even better. So the ticket says Row 2, which I have to say, I was pretty psyched about. But when my friend Jim and I arrived at the show, lo and behold, Row 2 was actually front row! So even though we were off on the side, we were still deep in the madness and mayhem, and we were graced by Alice’s presence when he slunk over to our side of the stage.

The theme of this show was kind of a psycho-circus motif. There were demented clowns providing Alice with his various implements of destruction, and just grinning menacingly like something out of a Stephen King novel.

There were some nice surprises in this show, notably “Public Animal #9,” a classic from the School’s Out album, and “Unfinished Sweet,” where the clowns shoved Alice into an Egyptian sarcophagus and skewered him with swords. Also, Alice made a nod to Elvis, one of his influences, by playing “Jailhouse Rock” for an encore, decked out in a sequined jacket and some fly shades.

There were so many high points at this show, it was basically just one long high point. From the first chords of “Hello Hooray” until the last note of “Under My Wheels,” it was all Killer and no filler.

Here’s the full setlist. Rock on!

Setlistlowns

  • Hello Hooray
  • Sideshow
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Public Animal #9
  • Be My Lover
  • Lost in America
  • I’m Eighteen
  • From the Inside
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Steven
  • Halo of Flies
  • Nothing’s Free
  • Cleansed by Fire
  • Poison
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Unfinished Sweet
  • School’s Out

Encore:

  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Under My Wheels

Blues Traveler with The Derek Trucks Band: 7/30/2005

Bele Chere was an annual street fair that used to happen in downtown Asheville (the city stopped having it in 2013). They would close off the streets, and have artists, vendors, and stages set up for musicians. Generally, all the music was free, and over the years I saw some cool acts, like Cracker, Grace Potter, the Old 97s, and Southern Culture on the Skids.

Anyway, in 2005, the powers that be decided to try adding a “paid” performance to the festival. This pissed off a lot of purists who felt that all the music should be free, but I didn’t mind paying the $15. I figured it was worth it to see two bands, and I have never seen Blues Traveler before, so I figured it would be worth checking them off the list.

Derek Trucks Band opened the show, and as always, he was tremendous on the guitar. He played a nice long set that included Count M’Butu sitting in on the congas, and Susan Tedeschi joined him on stage for a song, which was cool.

Afterwards, Blues Traveler took the stage. I really wanted to like them, because I like their studio stuff, but they were just not that interesting live. Even with Count M’Butu and Derek Trucks joining them on stage, it was just… OK. Maybe it was that Derek Trucks is a tough act to follow. God knows I wouldn’t want to get up on stage following his slide guitar playing. Bottom line, Blues Traveler didn’t suck, they were just not as good as I had hoped they would be. A little bit of a let-down, but glad I got to see them and check them off the list.

Here are the setlists from each act.

Derek Trucks Setlist:

(Count M’Butu  on congas for entire show)

  • Volunteered Slavery
  • I’ll Find My Way
  • Crow Jane
  • Sahib Teri Bandi >
  • Maki Madni
  • Leavin’ Trunk
  • I Wish I Knew (with Susan Tedeschi)
  • Kam-ma-lay
  • Joyful Noise
  • Going Down Slow
  • Feel So Bad
  • Gonna Move
  • My Favorite Things

Blues Traveler Setlist:

  • Carolina Blues
  • Back in the Day (with Count M’Butu)
  • Hook (with Count M’Butu)
  • No Woman, No Cry (with Count M’Butu and Derek Trucks)
  • Partner in Crime
  • Nail
  • Thinnest of Air
  • Amber Awaits
  • Stand
  • Manhattan Bridge
  • The Mountains Win Again
  • Run-Around
  • NY Prophesie

Encore:

  • Can’t Win True Love
  • Brother John

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

Rush: 6/8/2011

I had seen Rush several times prior to this show, but my wife had never seen them so we decided to go and check them out. What was cool about this tour, dubbed the Time Machine Tour, was that they were performing the “Moving Pictures” album in its entirety. I had seen Rush on the “Moving Pictures” tour, but they did not play the entire album, so I was pretty psyched about seeing it performed.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the ticket says Comp, with a cost of $0.00. No, we did not get freebies. We had bought the cheapest seats way in the back corner near the last row. But when we got there, they upgraded us to better seats. I suppose they figured it was easier to close the section and move everyone in that area in with the rest of the rock and roll mass. Fine with me. I had no complaint there.

The band opened with “The Spirit of Radio,” and it was just an audio and visual treat for the rest of the night. They played two solid sets (second set included all of Moving Pictures), and a rockin’ encore. By the time the last note of “Working Man” faded to silence, I was totally rocked out.

This would be my last time seeing Rush. Unless they decided to come back out of retirement (something bands NEVER do), I don’t think I will have another opportunity to see them again. Here’s the setlist. Rock on!

Set 1:

  • The Spirit of Radio
  • Time Stand Still
  • Presto
  • Stick It Out
  • Workin’ Them Angels
  • Leave That Thing Alone
  • Faithless
  • BU2B
  • Freewill
  • Marathon
  • Subdivisions

Set 2 (Moving Pictures):

  • Tom Sawyer
  • Red Barchetta
  • YYZ
  • Limelight
  • The Camera Eye
  • Witch Hunt
  • Vital Signs
  • Caravan
  • Closer to the Heart
  • 2112 Part I: Overture
  • 2112 Part II: The Temples of Syrinx
  • Far Cry

Encore:

  • La Villa Strangiato
  • Working Man

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

Eric Clapton: 7/23/1990

This concert was part of Clapton’s Journeyman tour. I had seen Clapton years before this with Muddy Waters, but I was definitely looking forward to seeing him again. My girlfriend at the time, Joyce, was a big Clapton fan too, so we were both excited about this show.

Our seats were in the lower section, pretty much straight back, so the sound was good, but the musicians were a little small. Not that I minded. Clapton sounded great, as was to be expected. He is, without question, one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

So you may be wondering about the guitar pick that is in the image along with the ticket stub. Of course, I would not have been able to get a pick sitting all the way in the back. But my roommate at time, Lowell, had seats right up near the front center, and he was one of the lucky souls to get a guitar pick that Eric had actually touched and played guitar with… and he gave it to me! I was kind of shocked. All I could think was, “Damn! That’s a true friend who offers you his Eric Clapton guitar pick.” It is a piece of rock memorabilia that I will treasure forever.

Here’s  the setlist from the show.

Setlist:

  • Pretending
  • No Alibis
  • Running on Faith
  • I Shot the Sheriff
  • White Room
  • Can’t Find My Way Home
  • Bad Love
  • Before You Accuse Me
  • Old Love
  • Tearing Us Apart
  • Wonderful Tonight
  • Cocaine
  • Layla
  • Cross Road Blues
  • Sunshine of Your Love