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
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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

The Cars: 10/24/1987

I don’t remember with whom I went to see this concert, but I remember the show. This concert was excellent. The Cars were one of those bands, kind of like Cheap Trick, that held a warm place in my heart growing up. While not my favorite band, I really really liked them, and even today, hearing their music brings me back to more carefree days.

I recall that the stage show was very cool. I am pretty sure there was some large automaton that came out, unless I imagined that. Musically, the high points for me were “Candy-O,” “Moving in Stereo,” and “Drive.”

While some of the new wave bands sound dated today, The Cars do not. When I listen to them (and I still do), they sound as vibrant and current as they did in the 80’s. I feel pretty fortunate that I got to see them back in the day, especially before Benjamin Orr got sick and passed away. Seeing him sing “Drive” was truly moving.

Here’s the full setlist.

Setlist:

  • Tonight She Comes
  • Touch and Go
  • Double Trouble
  • My Best Friend’s Girl
  • Everything You Say
  • Since You’re Gone
  • Fine Line
  • Let’s Go
  • Strap Me In
  • Candy-O
  • Moving in Stereo
  • Dangerous Type
  • Drive
  • You Are the Girl
  • Good Times Roll
  • You Might Think
  • Hello Again

Encore:

  • Just What I Needed
  • Magic

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’

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

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