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

Rush: 2/28/1992

I was a big Rush fan in the 70’s and early 80’s. Some of the later stuff did not speak to me the same way, but the Roll the Bones album was pretty good, and Rush always puts on a great stage show, so I figured I would go and see them again.

Primus was the opening act. I had not heard of them (yet), but the friend I was with was pretty excited about them. They came out, and honestly, I was not impressed. I did not think Les Claypool was that good, personally, but my friend was diggin’ it, so I hung out.

Rush came out, and as always, had a very visual-intensive show. Great lights and videos, and the band was tight. I had not seen them since the Moving Pictures tour (sorry, no stub from that show… gates were crashed and teargas deployed, but got to see them anyway), so it had been a while. They still sounded great and performed well. I would have liked to have heard more older tunes, especially “Working Man,” which was noticeably absent, but it was still a great show.

Afterwards, my friend was convinced that Primus blew Rush off the stage. Personally, I was inclined to disagree. Although it was not the Rush I saw on the Hemispheres tour, they were still great.

Here’s the full setlist.

Setlist:

  • Force Ten
  • Limelight
  • Freewill
  • Distant Early Warning
  • Time Stand Still
  • Dreamline
  • Bravado
  • Roll the Bones
  • Show Don’t Tell
  • The Big Money
  • Ghost of a Chance
  • Subdivisions
  • The Pass
  • Where’s My Thing?
  • Drum Solo
  • Closer to the Heart
  • Xanadu
  • Superconductor
  • Tom Sawyer

Encore:

  • The Spirit of Radio
  • 2112 Part I: Overture > Finding My Way > La Villa Strangiato > Anthem > Red Barchetta

Roger Waters: 3/13/1985

This was my first time seeing Roger Waters. I had seen David Gilmour solo prior to this, which was very cool, but I was definitely excited to see Roger.

Unfortunately, we were on the second leg of this tour. The first leg, which happened in 1984, featured Eric Clapton on guitar. Instead, we had Jay Stapley. Oh well… such is life.

I went to this concert with both of my brothers, one of whom traveled a considerable distance to attend. But that brother has always been a huge Pink Floyd fan, so he was not going to pass on the opportunity to see Waters.

The show was basically broken into two sets: the first set was all Pink Floyd stuff, and the second set was “Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking” in its entirety. Then they did “Brain Damage/Eclipse” as the encore, which was awesome.

The sound was about as good as it could be, considering it was in the Hollywood Sportatorium, notorious for its crappy acoustics. The stage show was very cool. Lots of freaky visuals, props, and theatrics. Basically, everything that you would expect from a Roger Waters concert. High points for me were “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” “If,” “Pigs on the Wing,” and of course, “Brain Damage.” Here is the full setlist. Rock on!!

Set 1:

  • Welcome to the Machine
  • Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
  • Money
  • If
  • Wish You Were Here
  • Pigs on the Wing 1
  • Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert
  • Southampton Dock
  • The Gunner’s Dream
  • In the Flesh
  • Nobody Home
  • Have a Cigar
  • Another Brick in the Wall Part 1
  • The Happiest Days of Our Lives
  • Another Brick in the Wall Part 2

Set 2: (The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking)

  • 4:30 AM (Apparently They Were Travelling Abroad)
  • 4:33 AM (Running Shoes)
  • 4:37 AM (Arabs with Knives and West German Skies)
  • 4:39 AM (For the First Time Today, Part 2)
  • 4:41 AM (Sexual Revolution)
  • 4:47 AM (The Remains of Our Love)
  • 4:50 AM (Go Fishing)
  • 4:56 AM (For the First Time Today, Part 1)
  • 4:58 AM (Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin)
  • 5:01 AM (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, Part 10)
  • 5:06 AM (Every Stranger’s Eyes)
  • 5:11 AM (The Moment of Clarity)

Encore:

  • Brain Damage
  • Eclipse

Hair – The Musical: 9/3/1989

Like every good hippie, I thought that “Hair” was about the greatest musical ever produced. I had seen some college performances, but when I learned that an actual professional performance was coming to the Hirschfeld Theatre on Miami Beach, I had to get a ticket.

I’m a little disappointed that I could not find any specifics about this production online. I recall that the lead actress was someone reasonably well-known, but for the life of me I cannot recall her name. I do remember really liking the show. The music was great, as was the acting.

I wish I had more to share about this, but alas, that’s all I got… a stub and some vague memories.

3 (Emerson, Palmer & Berry): 5/21/1988

I was (and still am) a huge ELP fan, so when I heard that the band 3, featuring Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer, were playing a nightclub in Fort Lauderdale, I immediately scored a ticket.

I don’t remember with whom I went with, but I remember the scene and the show itself most vividly. City Limits nightclub was jam packed, almost to the point of being really uncomfortable. But I was not to be deterred. I squeezed myself into a space where I had a good view of the stage, and especially Keith’s infamous Moog synthesizer.

I had seen Emerson, Lake & Powell a couple years prior, but seeing Carl Palmer pounding away was a treat indeed. And Keith’s playing was mind-blowing. I can still see him twisting knobs and pulling and inserting plugs during “Hoedown,” and laying on top of his grand piano, playing classical piano backwards. All the while, Carl pounding away with a precision that is unrivaled. I was not familiar with Robert Berry, but he was no slouch.

The band broke up after this tour (the only tour they did, I believe). I feel pretty fortunate to have been able to see them. Here’s the setlist.

Setlist:

  • Fanfare for the Common Man
  • Desde la vida
  • Lover to Lover
  • Hoedown
  • You Do or You Don’t
  • Talkin’ ’bout
  • The Fugue
  • Creole Dance
  • On My Way Home
  • Runaway
  • Standing in the Shadows of Love
  • America
  • Blue Rondo à la Turk
  • Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
  • Drum Solo
  • Flight of the Bumblebee
  • Eight Miles High

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, with Sonic Youth and Social Distortion: 3/9/1991

I remember this concert very well. I love Neil Young, and had seen him with Crazy Horse a couple times before this show, but I had not seen Sonic Youth or Social Distortion, and I was pretty psyched that they were fleshing out a solid triple bill (and for only $20!!).

I went with my good friend and fellow musician, Big Ed Stokes (he was morbidly big, which sadly led to his early death not long after this show). Ed was one of the best guitarists I knew, and we spent many long days together playing music and teaching each other songs.

Anyway, we got to the Miami Arena with plenty time to spare, got situated, and waited for the music to start. Social D played first, and they totally rocked it! Straight-ahead rock and roll with a healthy injection of punk. When they finished, all I could think was, “Damn! I’d love to see them as a headliner.” They played a smokin’ version Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” which was mind-blowing. When they finished and the lights came up, Ed and I were both pumped and ready for the next act—Sonic Youth.

What can I say about Sonic Youth? They were one of the most disappointing bands I have ever seen. Maybe my expectations were too high, but the truth is, I thought they sucked. I stood there watching them, as they mindlessly pounded on their instruments, making noise, and rolling around on the stage, getting tangled in their cords. It was like watching a group of morons who were trying to make obnoxious noise to torment those around them. I distinctly recall wondering if they even knew how to play their instruments, because it did not seem like it to me. And after such a great set from Social D, it just made them sound all the worse. I asked Ed what he thought of them, and he said “They fuckin’ suck. I’m getting a headache.” Now Ed never shied away from loud music, so I felt validated. We ended up hanging out in the hallway until they finished playing.

After the Sonic Cacophony ended, we went back inside and waited for Neil. Finally, the lights went down and Neil & Co. exploded on stage with “Hey Hey, My My,” and it was one killer song after another. The high points for me were a powerful cover version of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and “Welfare Mothers” as one of the encore tunes. I can close my eyes right now, 27 years later, and still picture them on stage, pounding out some of the greatest rock and roll ever. As long as Neil Young is still alive, then rock and roll can never die.

Here is the setlist from the show.

Setlist:

  • Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)
  • Crime in the City
  • Blowin’ in the Wind
  • Love to Burn
  • Cinnamon Girl
  • Mansion on the Hill
  • Fuckin’ Up
  • Cortez the Killer
  • Powderfinger
  • Love and Only Love
  • Rockin’ in the Free World

Encore:

  • Welfare Mothers
  • Like a Hurricane

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”)

Beatles – LOVE (Cirque du Soleil): 1/28/2018

This is the third and final show that my wife and I saw on our Las Vegas trip. Lots of people had raved about how great the show is, and since I had never seen a cirque du soleil performance before, I figured it was something worth checking out. It definitely lived up to all the hype and my expectations.

My initial impression of cirque du soleil is that it was amazing, visually stunning, but somewhat disorienting. So much was happening at the same time that it was a veritable assault on the senses. I did not know which way to look, and frequently felt like I was missing something. But everything that my eyes did take in was beautifully choreographed and executed with brilliant precision.

The music of the Beatles really lends itself well to this kind of performance. Songs like “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” were interpreted beautifully, as were all the other pieces. There was nothing weak, and my only disappointment was that I wished it would go on longer. I enjoyed losing myself in the phantasmagoria of sight and sound, and really did not want to return to reality.

After this show, I was done with Vegas. Personally, I have no desire to ever go back there. The shows I saw were great, but the city really has nothing else to offer, since I don’t drink and work way too hard to gamble my money away. But I’m glad I went, and saw the shows I did, and am able to check Vegas off the bucket list.

Santana: 1/27/2018

This show was on our first full day in Las Vegas. My wife and I had arrived the night before and managed to squeeze in seeing Cher at the Park Theater, but Santana was the show we had tickets for well in advance and we were both really looking forward to seeing Carlos in a small venue.

The House of Blues is located in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, which is on the other side of the Strip from where we were staying. Since we had the entire day to kill, we decided to walk the Strip, stop in to a couple casinos, and take in the sights. We did the Venetian, Caesar’s Palace, the Bellagio, and the MGM. There was no shortage of interesting people-watching. We played some games–won a little and lost a little. We were even informed by some caring individuals that we were all going to Hell.

We got to the Mandalay Bay well before showtime, so we decided to eat at the buffet. What a waste! It was mediocre at best, and certainly not worth the price they were charging. For all the talk about the amazing buffets in Vegas, I’m thinking people must be really drunk when they go there, because honestly, it was pretty weak.

Anyway, after dinner, we walked through the veil of tobacco smoke that hung in the casino and got to the House of Blues. We had general admission tickets, which put us in a small pit at the front, very close to the stage. I could have paid more for seats, but Santana is dancing music, and why spend more to sit farther back when I can be closer and able to dance. It was a no-brainer.

The band came out a little after 8:00 and kicked the show off with “Soul Sacrifice.” A perfect opener, in my humble opinion. Then they went right into “Jingo,” and it was just one great jam after another for the rest of the night. At 70 years old, Carlos looked healthy and his guitar playing was as tasteful as ever. And his band was really tight—three drummers and two singers who also played hand percussion instruments, so the rhythms were incredible.

Even after being on my feet for the entire day, I was totally energized by the music and had no problem dancing for the entire show. What a treat to see Carlos up close in such an intimate setting.

Here is the full setlist.

Setlist:

  • Soul Sacrifice
  • Jingo
  • Evil Ways
  • A Love Supreme
  • Watoto Nyada
  • Primavera
  • Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen
  • Oye Como Va
  • Samba Pa Ti
  • Wishing It Was
  • Taboo
  •  Total Destruction
  •  Then Came You
  • Maria Maria
  • Corazon Espinado
  • Foo Foo
  • Carlos Jam > Cindy Solo
  • Smooth
  • Love, Peace and Happiness
  • For the Highest Good

Cher: 1/26/2018

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless it is seeing Cher. That’s definitely worth sharing (pun intended).

I had never been to Las Vegas; it was just not something that appealed to me. But when my wife said she was going there for a conference and asked if I was interested in going with her to check it out, I figured why not. I reckoned I could see a few shows and then check Vegas off my bucket list. I looked online for shows and saw that Santana was playing the House of Blues on Saturday, January 27, so I bought tickets for that (thoughts on that show coming soon). Anyway, a couple days before we were to fly out there, I checked again to see what other shows might be of interest, and I discovered Cher was playing too! The caveat was that it was Friday night, the night we arrived, and it would be very tight trying to make it. I figured I would hold off on buying tickets, and see if the stars aligned.

Our flight was scheduled to land at 6:00 pm, but actually landed a little early. We got our bags without a hitch, caught a Super Shuttle, and were at the hotel by 7:00. We quickly checked in, dropped bags in the room, and caught a cab in front of the hotel. We got to the Park Theater at the Monte Carlo with time to spare, bought a couple tickets from the box office, and were in our seats well before the curtains came up. The stars had aligned!

What can I say about the show? At 71, Cher still looks and sounds amazing. The stage show was over-the-top, but I kind of expected that from a Vegas show. Video screens, floats, dancers and acrobats: it was the whole shebang. And I had forgotten just how many hits Cher had. It was like a journey through the past. Everything was perfectly choreographed, sound was great; there was nothing weak about this show at all. High points for me were “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves,” and “I Got You Babe,” where Cher sang along with a synchronized video of Sonny. It was quite moving.

I can’t imagine that Cher would do a full tour again, but you never know. That said, if you are in Vegas and have a chance to see her, I highly recommend it. Even if you are not a huge fan of her music, she puts on a great show, and is definitely a musical and pop culture icon.

Here’s the setlist.

Setlist:

  • Woman’s World
  • Strong Enough
  • All or Nothing
  • The Beat Goes On
  • All I Really Want to Do
  • I Got You Babe
  • Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves
  • Dark Lady
  • Half-Breed
  • Welcome to Burlesque
  • Take Me Home
  • After All
  • Walking in Memphis
  • The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)
  • I Found Someone
  • If I Could Turn Back Time

Encore:

  • Believe