Guns n’ Roses with Soundgarden: 12/31/1991

I was never a huge GnR fan, but I like some of their stuff. When I heard they were holding a big New Year’s Eve concert with Soundgarden, and some of my good friends were going, I figured this would be the time to check them out and scratch them off the list of bands to be seen.

The concert was being held at Joe Robbie Stadium, which kind of sucked. I’m not a fan of stadium shows, but such is life. One thing that made me chuckle, though, upon getting my ticket, was the statement *Showtime Approximate*. Axl was notorious for showing up late for performances (or not showing up at all), so the audience was duly warned.

We got there and our seats were straight back, lower section. Soundgarden came out and started their set, and some asshole in the upper deck started tossing down M-80s, one of which exploded at my feet. I was beyond pissed and stormed upstairs, seeking out the jerk with every intention of having an altercation, but alas, I could not find him. He either moved on or ran out of ammunition.

After what seemed like an unusually long time, GnR took the stage and kicked right into “Welcome to the Jungle.” I have to say, I was pretty impressed by the energy with which they opened the show. Reminded me of how I felt when I saw The Clash and they exploded on stage with “London Calling.” Even sitting at the back of Joe Robbie Stadium, I felt the power of the music emanating from the stage.

The band played a long time, and the show was killer. I gained a new level of respect for the band, and understood why people liked them so much. I still don’t own any Guns n’ Roses albums, but I have good memories of seeing them live and tend to turn the volume up a bit when one of their songs comes on the radio.

Here’s the setlist.

  • Welcome to the Jungle
  • Mr. Brownstone
  • Live and Let Die
  • Attitude
  • Nightrain
  • Bad Obsession
  • Double Talkin’ Jive
  • Civil War
  • It’s So Easy
  • Patience (w Wild Horses intro)
  • Rocket Queen
  • November Rain
  • You Could Be Mine
  • Matt Sorum Drum Solo
  • Slash Guitar Solo
  • Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine (with Sail Away Sweet Sister… more )
  • Don’t Cry
  • Move to the City
  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door  (w Only Women Bleed intro)
  • Estranged
  • Paradise City
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Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: 9/10/1985

Springsteen on the Born in the U.S.A. tour. He was definitely one of the top touring acts in 1985. I had not seen Bruce but had heard about his epic concerts, so I figured I had to go and check him out. He lived up to the hype, that’s for sure.

I went to this show with my concert buddy Jim. He drove, and we parked in some sketchy lot near the Miami Orange Bowl, then made our way to the stadium. At this time, I was already losing interest in stadium shows. Shitty acoustics, too many people, risk of bad weather, there are myriad reasons to avoid stadium shows. But there was no other place that could hold the crowd that Springsteen would draw, so the Orange Bowl it was. At least we had decent seats.

Not surprising, he opened the show with “Born in the U.S.A.” It was a great anthem song to kick things off, and I was kind of glad he got it out of the way early. Not that it is a bad song, it was just way overplayed on the radio in those days. Then he tore right into “Badlands,” which was cool.

Miami in September can be brutally hot, and Bruce is known to sweat a lot during his performances. Anyway, the band had tubing set up on the stage that blasted a steady stream of cool air onto the musicians. I was somewhat impressed with this, and assumed that they were enjoying some air conditioning while still playing outside.

As was expected, the band played a long time (I want to say it was about 4 hours). They did two solid sets, and an encore that was so long, it was essentially a third set in my opinion. I have to say, after seeing Bruce live, I had a whole new level of appreciation for him as a musician. The man can rock. Period.

After the show, Jim and I started looking for the car. Unfortunately, we had forgotten where we parked, and as we wandered the dark and seedy streets of downtown Miami in the 80’s, I was somewhat concerned. But thankfully, we had no issues, and after almost an hour, we stumbled upon the lot where Jim’s car was parked.

Here is the setlist.

Set 1:

  • Born in the U.S.A.
  • Badlands
  • Out in the Street
  • Johnny 99
  • Seeds
  • Darkness on the Edge of Town
  • The River
  • Working on the Highway
  • Trapped
  • Darlington County
  • Glory Days
  • The Promised Land
  • My Hometown
  • Thunder Road

Set 2:

  • Cover Me
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • Hungry Heart
  • Cadillac Ranch
  • No Surrender
  • I’m on Fire
  • Pink Cadillac
  • Bobby Jean

Encore:

  • Can’t Help Falling in Love
  • Born to Run
  • Ramrod
  • Twist and Shout
  • Do You Love Me?
  • Stand on It

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

Lynyrd Skynyrd: 5/29/1988

So as you can see from the ticket, this concert was supposed to have been held at the Miami Baseball Stadium, but was instead moved to the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium. I was on the fence about going, for a few reasons. First off, they were not the original Skynyrd, although they had most of the originals, along with Ronnie’s brother on vocals:

Lineup

  • Johnny Van Zant – vocals
  • Gary Rossington – guitar
  • Ed King – guitar
  • Randall Hall – guitar
  • Billy Powell – keyboards
  • Leon Wilkeson – bass
  • Artimus Pyle – drums
  • Lacy Van Zant (Ronnie and Johnny’s father) – tuba for one song
  • Toy Caldwell of the Marshall Tucker Band – fourth guitar to some songs

The second cause for hesitancy was that fact that, living in South Florida, I was subjected to the raving fanaticism of redneck adoration to Skynyrd on an almost daily basis. Finally, I was not crazy about the Baseball Stadium. In spite of all that, I bought a ticket, and felt somewhat relieved when it was announced they were moving the show to the Sporto.

The Gary Rossington Band opened the show, and got the crowd pretty riled. Rebel flags were waved with pride, something that made me feel less than comfortable.

When Skynyrd came out, I have to confess, they sounded good. Seeing Ed King up there was a treat, and Billy Powell’s keyboard playing was as great as ever. While I never considered myself a fan of the band, I did know every song that they played, which always makes for a good concert experience.

When the band played “Free Bird” as the last song of the evening, Johnny opted not to sing, and just hung his hat on the microphone stand, and the band played an instrumental version to which the crowd sang along. It was actually a nice, sentimental gesture.

Anyway, here’s the setlist. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • Workin’ for MCA
  • I Ain’t the One
  • Saturday Night Special
  • Gimme Back My Bullets
  • The Needle and the Spoon
  • That Smell
  • The Ballad of Curtis Loew
  • Things Goin’ On
  • Swamp Music
  • I Know a Little
  • Gimme Three Steps
  • Call Me the Breeze
  • What’s Your Name
  • Comin’ Home
  • Simple Man
  • Sweet Home Alabama
  • Free Bird

U2: 12/3/1987

I know that this might draw down the wrath of U2 fans, but I have to be honest and say that this show was a little disappointing for me. It’s not that the band was bad—on the contrary, they were very good. The issue for me was that I had seen U2 twice on the Unforgettable Fire tour in a much smaller venue, which was mindblowing. But in a big stadium, I just did not feel the same connection with the band that I did in the smaller venue. It is difficult to pull off a good stadium show. Not many bands can do it well. I suspect U2 has gotten better at the stadium performance, but 30 years ago, not so much.

Anyway, Buckwheat Zydeco opened the show, and they were fun. Cool, danceable, New Orleans style music. I seem to recall that they had a hit on the radio at that time, but the song escapes my memory.

U2 came out and opened with “Where the Streets Have No Name.” I remember the sound being pretty good for the Orange Bowl, which was notorious for its God-awful acoustics, but still not that great. And since I had nosebleed seats, I spent the night straining my eyes, trying to see the miniscule figures on the stage. I was just a bad setting for a concert. Maybe if I were closer, I would have enjoyed it more.

I don’t have much more to share about this show, but I do have the setlist.

Setlist

  • Where the Streets Have No Name
  • I Will Follow
  • Trip Through Your Wires
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
  • One Tree Hill
  • Gloria
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Exit
  • In God’s Country
  • People Get Ready
  • Bad
  • October
  • New Year’s Day
  • Pride (In the Name of Love)

Encore:

  • Bullet the Blue Sky
  • Running To Stand Still
  • With or Without You
  • 40

Grateful Dead and Sting: 6/26/1993

This was the second of a two-night stand at RFK Stadium. Before the show, we decided to go and check out the National Gallery. On the way there, we had to make a quick exit from the train because my friend must have eaten something that didn’t agree with her. Thankfully, she recovered quickly and we had a good time checking out the art before the show.

The concert was packed, and Sting opened the show. He changed his set up from the first night, only repeating a few songs, which I thought was cool. And again, Jerry came out and jammed with Sting on a couple tunes.

Just like the first night, Bruce Hornsby also played accordion and helped with the vocals. The Dead’s set was solid, and they played “Spoonful,” which was a really nice surprise. That’s not one they play all that often.

They closed the show with “Liberty,” which is not one of my favorite Dead tunes, but I can understand why they picked it as an encore. We were in the nation’s capital, after all.

Here are the set lists.

Sting’s Set

  • All This Time
  • Why Should I Cry for You?
  • Synchronicity II
  • Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
  • Roxanne
  • Fortress Around Your Heart
  • Love Is Stronger Than Justice (The Munificent Seven)
  • Penny Lane
  • Purple Haze
  • When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around
  • Walking on the Moon (with Jerry Garcia)
  • Consider Me Gone / I’ve Been Down So Long (with Jerry Garcia)

Dead’s Sets

Set 1:

  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Brown-Eyed Women
  • Spoonful
  • Lazy River Road
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece
  • Bird Song
  • Picasso Moon

Set 2:

  • Iko Iko
  • Way to Go Home
  • Playing in the Band >
  • Terrapin Station >
  • Drums >
  • Space >
  • The Last Time >
  • Days Between >
  • Throwing Stones
  • One More Saturday Night

Encore:

  • Liberty