The Who: 11/8/2012

I had seen the Who several times, and had seen them perform “Quadrophenia” also, but the fact that they were playing in an arena (I had only ever seen them outdoors) and the fact that I wanted to take my kids to see the legendary band prompted me to get tickets.

I drove with my friend Greg to the box office at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, SC on the day the tickets were going on sale. It was a solid hour’s drive, but we figured it would be worth it to save the exorbitant TicketMaster fees that we would be charged if we bought the tickets online. The line was pretty long, and they were doing the lottery thing where they give everyone a number and then pick who gets first in line. We ended up getting a decent spot for when the tickets went on sale. Our seats were on the balcony, about halfway back, but first row, so we would not have any heads obstructing our view.

On the night of the show, my wife and I drove down with the kids and we met Greg and his family, along with another couple of friends, and we all sat together, which was fun. There is something about going to see live music with a big group of friends and family that makes the experience even more special.

Anyway, the opening act was a band called Vintage Trouble. They are a really great R&B band and I was thoroughly impressed with their sound and stage presence. If you are into high-energy, 1960s style rhythm and blues, then you should check these guys out.

After a relatively short intermission, the Who came out and launched into the Quadrophenia set. They had a great high-def video wall behind the band that displayed some amazing visuals that supported the music. And while Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey were both showing their age, they still performed with the energy that the Who is known for.

After completing the Quadrophenia part of the performance, the band did an extended “encore” set of classic Who tunes. Overall, it was a great show. And while it was not the best Who show I had seen (I did miss John Entwistle’s bass playing), the fact that I got to share this experience with my whole family makes it one of those live music moments that I will cherish forever.

Here is the full setlist.

Setlist:

Quadrophenia

  • I Am the Sea
  • The Real Me
  • Quadrophenia
  • Cut My Hair
  • The Punk and the Godfather
  • I’m One
  • The Dirty Jobs
  • Helpless Dancer
  • Is It in My Head?
  • I’ve Had Enough
  • 5:15
  • Sea and Sand
  • Drowned
  • Bell Boy
  • Doctor Jimmy
  • The Rock
  • Love, Reign O’er Me

Encore:

  • Baba O’Riley
  • Pinball Wizard
  • Behind Blue Eyes
  • Who Are You
  • Won’t Get Fooled Again
  • Tea & Theatre

The Black Keys with The Flaming Lips: 7/12/2013

I was really psyched for this show. I had never seen the Black Keys so I was excited about seeing them for the first time, and I had seen the Flaming Lips before at MoogFest and they were awesome, so I was totally looking forward to seeing them again.

My wife and I drove to Simpsonville, SC, which was nearly a 2-hour drive. There were some pretty strong storms that day, so I was bracing myself for having to stand out in the rain for the concert. What I did not anticipate was the shit that we were going to have to deal with.

We got to the Charter Amphitheatre and were directed to a “parking lot” which was a field that had turned into a swamp because of all the rain. I was very concerned that our little car was going to get stuck, but I kept the forward motion and we got to our spot in the field. The first thing that assaulted me was a vile stench like raw sewage. As we got out of the car and started wading through the mire, I quickly realized that it was the ground below us that was emanating the foul odor. I had this image of sewage percolating up from the ground and mixing with the mud that was coating my sandaled feet. I was genuinely concerned that I might be exposed to hepatitis or something of that nature.

Eventually we got to paved area and discovered, to our dismay, that they had not opened the gates because of the storms. Supposedly they were concerned about lightening, so thousands of people were lined up in a labyrinthine queue that seemed to go on forever. We got in line and waited… and waited… and waited. Finally, the line began to move and after a painfully long time, we were in the amphitheatre.

It did not get any better. There were virtually no facilities in this place—a couple porta-johns at each far end, and a couple vendors selling beer and shitty soft drinks. The people there were a nightmare, and we were sandwiched in the muddy general admission area along with some people who clearly imbibed way too much.

The Flaming Lips came out, and they were over-the-top, as usual. Although they were good, I personally thought they were better the previous time I saw them. But hey, not every performance is going to be the best.

Afterward, the Black Keys took the stage. They sounded great and I was enjoying the music, but the crowd and the general environment were beginning to wear on me: the smell of vomit, the sweaty people pressing against me, etc. I was beginning to feel like I am getting too old for this kind of shit. When my wife suggested we leave early, I gladly acquiesced. We had seen well over an hour of the Black Keys, so I felt like I had gotten my money’s worth. We slogged back through the fetid swamp to our car and drove out of there before the crush of traffic. After that, I vowed I would never go to another concert at that venue. No band is worth having to deal with that nightmare place.

The Pretenders: 3/28/2018

So I had some reservations about going to see this show. The reason being, I had seen the Pretenders back in the 80’s, and they were AWESOME! They were so great, I was afraid that seeing them 34 years later would be a let-down. (Note: This show was exactly 34 years to the day after I first saw them.) Anyway, my wife wanted to go because she loves the Pretenders and had never seen them, so I bought tickets. I’m damn glad I did.

The band was playing at the Peace Center in Greenville, about an hour’s drive. The venue has great acoustics and comfortable seats, but it’s a little strange. Most of the people who go there are old. Now I am no spring chicken and have earned my rank as a veteran concertgoer, but I felt like a teenager there. I think that many people purchase season tickets, but I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just older than I feel.

Anyway, the opening band was pretty good, although I forgot their name. But not long afterwards, the Pretenders took the stage.

What can I say? Chrissie Hynde still looks and sounds incredible. She took the stage in tight black pants, tee shirt, pink blazer, and leopard skin shoes, looking every bit the rock goddess that she always was. She had a great band with her (Martin Chambers on drums was the only other original), and the guitarist was especially good, channeling the classic riffs with punk-rockabilly flare.

What I thought was cool was that Chrissie was adamant about people not using their cell phones during the show, stating that they needed to just focus on the music. Now I have no issue with snapping a picture or two, even taking a short 30-second video to share on Facebook if that’s your thing, but I confess an annoyance when I am looking toward a stage and all I see are devices in the air, as if the experience is not real unless it happens on your iPhone screen. So Chrissie did shame someone for trying to use a phone, and I think that scared everyone else.

As far as the performance goes, it was kick ass from beginning to end, with an encore that was mind-blowing. She interspersed the tunes with some banter and cool stories, but not to the point of drudgery. The energy was high, and she played for what felt like a long time. Totally felt like I got my money’s worth.

I found a setlist online, but there were some things that I noticed were definitely not correct, so I edited it a little. I think this is mostly right now, but I am not promising 100% accuracy. But you should be able to get an idea of how the show was.

Thanks Chrissie, for all the great music. Long may you rock!

Setlist:

  • Alone
  • Gotta Wait
  • Talk of the Town
  • Down the Wrong Way
  • Private Life
  • My City Was Gone
  • Let’s Get Lost
  • Kid
  • Back on the Chain Gang
  • Hymn To Her
  • Forever Young
  • Don’t Get Me Wrong
  • I’ll Stand by You
  • I Hate Myself
  • Thumbelina
  • Night in My Veins
  • Middle of the Road
  • Mystery Achievement

Encore:

  • ?????
  • Stop Your Sobbing
  • The Wait
  • Tattooed Love Boys
  • Precious

Alice Cooper: 3/26/2018

I know – I’ve seen Alice a LOT of times. But my youngest daughter had never seen him and wanted to go, so how could I say no?

We drove to Greenville, SC, which was a little over an hour. We got there with plenty of time to spare, which was a good thing, because there was only one merchandise table, so the line literally snaked around the hallway. But we waited patiently with the other rockers and got a couple of cool shirts. Then headed in to the show.

We had decent seats on the floor, right in the center. There was no opening act, just Alice. He came out, ever the grim glam god, and opened with “Brutal Planet.” After that, it was all Killer and no filler, just one great tune after another. Some of the high points for me were “Billion Dollar Babies,” where they had the classic snakeskin wallet cover as a backdrop, “Halo of Flies,” one of the greatest epic Cooper tunes ever, and “Serious” off the “From the Inside” album, somewhat obscure, so great to see performed live.

My daughter really loved the show, which I was glad about. And while she slept on the drive home, I thought about how lucky I am that I get to share live music with my kids.

Here’s the setlist from the show.

Setlist:

  • Brutal Planet
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy
  • Under My Wheels
  • Billion Dollar Babies
  • Be My Lover
  • Lost in America
  • Serious
  • Fallen in Love
  • Woman of Mass Distraction
  • Guitar Solo (Nita Strauss)
  • Poison
  • Halo of Flies
  • Feed My Frankenstein
  • Cold Ethyl
  • Only Women Bleed
  • Paranoiac Personality
  • Ballad of Dwight Fry
  • Killer (Excerpt)
  • I Love the Dead (Band vocals only)
  • I’m Eighteen

Encore:

  • School’s Out (with “Another Brick in the Wall”)

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)