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’

Jethro Tull with U.K.: 9/4 or 5/1979

This is a pretty sad stub. The concert was amazing, but I was quite upset that the gatekeeper gave me the short stub. I even said something to the guy, but he was a real asshole about it and refused to let me have the better half. As such, I had to do some digging online to find the actual date of the concert, which was part of the Stormwatch tour. It seems that they played two nights at the Sportatorium. I’m not sure which was the one I attended.

Anyway, the concert was awesome! I was a huge Tull fan growing up. I have great memories of being in the woods in New York with my friends, listening to Songs from the Wood on a dinky cassette player. One of my earliest album purchases was Best of Jethro Tull, and I listened to it over and over and over. So getting to see Tull was a big deal for me.

The prog rock band U.K. opened the show. I was not that familiar with them at the time, but once I learned more about them, I felt fortunate to have gotten to see them live. The incarnation of the band I saw was the trio version which included singer/bassist John Wetton (from King Crimson, Roxy Music, and Uriah Heep), keyboardist/electric violinist Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music and Frank Zappa’s band), and drummer Terry Bozzio (from Frank Zappa’s band). I didn’t know any of their music, but damn – I was really impressed with their performance.

Then Tull took the stage. The entire band was out, sans Ian Anderson. There was a stand in the center of the stage holding his flute. Suddenly, a pirate-looking figure swung from one side of the Sporto on a rope to the other, swung back, and on the next swing, let go, slid across the stage and swooped up his flute. I was completely blown away! They played five songs from the new album, after which Ian said, “Well, we’ve played some new stuff, now the rest of the evening will be all older material. This song starts out loud, then gets soft, then gets loud, then gets soft, then gets loud again. I think you know the rest…” and they blasted into “Aqualung.” The crowd exploded. And true to his word, the rest of the show was all classic tunes, which included “Songs from the Wood,” “Thick as a Brick,” “Too Old to Rock and Roll,” and “Cross-eyed Mary.” And just when I thought it could get no better: the encore!! They came back, played Minstrel in the Gallery > Locomotive Breath > Dambusters March > Minstrel in the Gallery (reprise). To this day, that holds up as one of the best encores I’ve ever seen.

I would go on and see Jethro Tull other times in my life, but none of the subsequent shows ever lived up to this one. It was by far the best Tull show I have seen, and up there with some of the best concerts overall.