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)

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

Hot Tuna: 1/24/1988

I’ve seen Hot Tuna a lot of times, so the shows tend to blend together in my memory, but this one stands out. I went with my friend Jon to this one, and Jon was also a huge Tuna fan, so we were pretty psyched.

The Carefree Theatre was an old movie theater in West Palm Beach that opened in 1947 and was converted to become a venue for smaller acts. It was a really cool place for a concert, because every seat was a great seat. That said, we had sixth row, so we were close to the stage.

This was the classic acoustic Hot Tuna duo, with just Jack and Jorma. They played a long time and the crowd was really into it. Great selection of songs, including “Good Shepherd,” which hearkened back to Jack and Jorma’s days with the Jefferson Airplane.

I was able to find a partial setlist on tunabase.com. Sorry I can’t fill in the blanks, but it was over 30 years ago. Rock on!

Set 1:

  • I Know You Rider
  • Hesitation Blues
  • Walkin’ Blues
  • I See The Light
  • Candy Man
  • 99 Year Blues
  • Killing Time In The Crystal City

Set 2:

  • Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning
  • Ice Age
  • Too Many Years
  • Sea Child
  • Trial By Fire
  • San Francisco Bay Blues
  • How Long Blues
  • Good Shepherd
  • I Am The Light Of This World

(missing rest of set)

Paul Simon: 2/7/1991

This show was part of Paul Simon’s “Born at the Right Time” tour. I was pretty psyched to see him, since his songs were definitely a part of the soundtrack of my early years. I even had “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” on 45 back in the day.

I went with my then girlfriend, and we had decent seats, even though they were upper level. The Miami Arena was not huge, which was probably why the Heat abandoned it and built a bigger arena, which resulted in the venue being demolished in 2008.

Anyway, back to the concert. Paul Simon was amazing. He sounded great and had a solid backing band comprised of really cool world musicians. He played a nice long show… but I had one complaint. He played “You Can Call Me Al” TWICE, one right after the other. So he played the song, everyone was dancing and singing along, and when they finished, Paul said “Wow! That was great! Let’s do it again.” And they did. OK, they played a shortened version, but still, I felt ever so slightly rooked. I mean, Paul Simon has a ton of great songs, a lot of which he did not play. He could have tossed in “Mrs. Robinson” or “Scarborough Fair” or “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” instead. Just sayin’.

Besides the repeat, it was a great show. Here’s the setlist. Rock on.

Setlist:

  • The Obvious Child
  • The Boy in the Bubble
  • She Moves On
  • Kodachrome
  • Born at the Right Time
  • Negotiations and Love Songs
  • Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
  • Proof
  • I Know What I Know
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • The Cool, Cool River
  • Further to Fly
  • Cecilia
  • Graceland
  • You Can Call Me Al
  • You Can Call Me Al
  • Still Crazy After All These Years
  • Late in the Evening
  • Hearts and Bones
  • Loves Me Like a Rock
  • Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
  • American Tune
  • The Boxer
  • The Sound of Silence

The Raconteurs: 7/23/2019

I bought these tickets to see The Raconteurs at the Fox Theater in Oakland before we moved out to California. My wife loves the band, and I really like them too. Actually, my favorite of all Jack White’s projects. So I scored tickets and the show promptly sold out. They added a second show, but there’s something that makes a sold out show just a little more special.

Anyway, we drove to Oakland, which took a while because of rush hour traffic, but we still made it in time to grab a bite to eat before the show. After dinner, we walked to the theater, which even from the outside looked really cool.

Now I have to say that the inside of the theater was even nicer, really beautiful and ornate. Unfortunately, this was a “no phones” show, and they were hard-core. Everyone had to put their phones into these hermetically sealed pouches that could only be opened upon exiting the venue. But, if you want, you can Google the venue and there are plenty of pictures online to give you a sense of the décor.

The opening act was an artist called Lillie Mae, who is someone Jack White produced. She and her band were awesome. Totally worth checking out. Cool alternative country vibe. My wife said that they sounded like a mix between Dixie Chicks and Mazzy Star, which was pretty accurate.

After a brief intermission, The Raconteurs took the stage. We had general admission floor tickets, so we were pretty close, and I was grateful that I brought earplugs, because they were quite loud. After so many concerts, I need to protect my hearing.

What can I say about the show? They totally rocked! It was all killer and no filler. High energy, great mix of old and new stuff. The only criticism I have is that it was kind of short. Including encore, they barely played for an hour and a half. For $85 a ticket, I feel like you should get at least two hours. But beside that, it was great.

Here’s the setlist. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • Consoler of the Lonely
  • Level
  • Don’t Bother Me
  • Old Enough
  • Shine the Light on Me
  • Top Yourself
  • What’s Yours Is Mine
  • Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)
  • Broken Boy Soldier
  • Only Child
  • Help Me Stranger
  • Blue Veins

Encore:

  • Bored and Razed
  • Many Shades of Black
  • Sunday Driver
  • Steady, as She Goes

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

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