The Neville Brothers: 3/17/1989

I don’t have a clear memory of this show. I’ve seen the Nevilles several times, and they were always great.

The Neville Brothers were actually four brothers: Art, Charles, Aaron, and Cyril. For me, they embodied the New Orleans sound. Their music was fun and funky, and it was always a dance party when they performed. Sadly, they officially broke up in 2012

I have vague memories of seeing them at Woody’s, which was Ron Wood’s music club on Miami Beach. I remember the place being packed, and people groovin’ and dancing. But the details of this show are lost in the haze of memory.

I wish I had more to share on this one. The Neville Brothers were awesome, and I’m sure I danced my ass off.

For those of you who have not heard the Nevilles, here’s a cool YouTube video clip from them performing at Tipitina’s in New Orleans.

 

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Galactic with Corey Glover: 2/9/2011

Sometimes, people win stuff. For example, I entered a drawing hosted by the local radio station to win tickets to Galactic, and I won! Woo Hoo! Corey Glover, the lead singer from Living Colour, was slated to be a guest vocalist with Galactic, which I was pretty psyched about. I do love Living Colour.

I asked my friend Scott if he wanted to go, since my wife was not up for it. He readily accepted the freebie and we headed to the Orange Peel for the show.

We got there in time to see the opening band, Orgone (I am assuming a phonetic spelling of Oregon). They were forgettable, but I don’t recall them sucking, so that was good.

Galactic took the stage and played some solid jams. Glover came out occasionally to lend his vocals, which was incredible. They sounded AWESOME together.

I could not find the setlist from this show online, but I did find some videos from this particular show. Here is a killer one of Galactic w Glover performing “8 Days On The Road.” Enjoy!

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.

Pat Benatar: 9/25/1981

Back in 1981, Pat Benatar was definitely one of the top women of rock. Not only did her songs rock, but they were really empowering for young women, which was a great thing in my opinion.

I don’t recall with whom I went to this concert, but I do have a clear memory of her on stage. The first thing that struck me was that she was quite short. For some reason, she seemed taller in the MTV videos. But regardless of stature, she was pure energy on stage. I recall being amazed at the level of power which she projected.

I wish I had more to share about this show. I looked at a few setlists from that tour, and this was pretty much the standard one. As I read it, I recalled “Helter Skelter,” which I had forgotten. It’s great when memories are rekindled.

Rock on!

Setlist (generic from tour):

  • You Better Run
  • Treat Me Right
  • Fire and Ice
  • Out-A-Touch
  • I Need a Lover
  • Promises in the Dark
  • Hit Me With Your Best Shot
  • Hell Is for Children
  • Heartbreaker
  • Precious Time
  • In the Heat of the Night
  • We Live for Love
  • Helter Skelter
  • Just Like Me
  • I’m Gonna Follow You
  • It’s a Tuff Life

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

Greg Lake: 4/25/2012

greglake_4-25-12

“If you were stranded on a desert island with just one album to listen to, what would it be?” If you are my age, I’m sure you’ve answered this question many times. My response was pretty standard: Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson Lake and Palmer. Throughout the years, I have owned this on vinyl (twice), on cassette, on 8-track, and on CD. It is an album I never tire of listening to.

I dug out this stub because Greg Lake passed away a couple days ago. He died the same year that his bandmate Keith Emerson also died. 2016 has been a terrible year for musicians.

I went to this concert with my friend Bill, a former bandmate of mine and a writer for various music publications. He had acquired a pair of complimentary tickets, which included a pass to meet Greg after the performance. I have to say, I was pretty excited to meet someone who has inspired me musically for most of my life.

We drove to Raleigh, got some food, then went to the venue. The manager there was very accommodating and invited us in early, gave us more food and beverages, and made us feel like VIP’s. The venue was intimate and we had great seats. Finally, the lights went out and Greg Lake took the stage.

This was his “storyteller” tour, so it was just him on the stage, playing bass and guitar along with recorded tracks, and of course singing. He also spent a good deal of time between songs telling personal stories about bands, recordings, and life as a musician. I felt like I got to know him on a deeper level and gained a more rich understanding of him as an artist. He played a broad selection of music from his early days in King Crimson through ELP and solo material. For me, it was an amazing experience, but it got better.

After the performance, we went to the VIP guest room and waited for Greg to arrive. After a bit, he showed up and people queued up to meet him and ask him questions. I of course had to bring a copy of Brain Salad Surgery, which he graciously signed for me. I felt a little intimidated meeting him, but he was pretty relaxed. I asked him what new bands he listened to. He said none, really. I felt a twinge of sadness for him. There are some great musicians out there now, and I thought he might find enjoyment and inspiration from listening to them. To quote his song: “C’est la vie” (which he played).

Greg Lake will be sorely missed, but he has gone on to join the great gig in the sky. Godspeed.

greglake_bss

Elton John and Leon Russell: 11/16/2010

EltonLeon_11-16-10

This was a real hard ticket to get. This show sold out at lightning speed and I almost was unable to get tickets (since our good friends at TicketMaster were not releasing all the tickets at once). Anyway, after getting a message that tickets were gone, my friend told me to try again, and like magic, tickets were available. I got tickets for my wife and two daughters.

I had seen Elton before, but this was my first time seeing Leon Russell, so I was pretty psyched.

Our seats were behind the stage, but that actually turned out to be a good thing. Both musicians had their pianos facing toward the center of the stage, so we had a great profile view of Elton and Leon was almost looking right at us. And we were close, which was nice.

Leon opened the show and played several songs of his own. Then Elton came out and kicked his set off with “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” which was the perfect opener, in my humble opinion.

Elton played a long set, during which Leon came out and the two performed together, playing songs from their collaborative album, “The Union.”

I really enjoyed taking my kids to this show. They both loved it and were thrilled to be seeing two rock and roll legends. There’s nothing like passing down a love of music to your children.

Here are the setlists from the show.

Leon’s Set

  1. Tight Rope
  2. Prince of Peace / Out in the Woods
  3. A Song for You
  4. Delta Lady
  5. Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms / Stranger in a Strange Land

Elton’s Set

  1. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
  2. Philadelphia Freedom
  3. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  4. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
  5. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  6. Bennie and the Jets
  7. I’m Still Standing
  8. If It Wasn’t for Bad
  9. Hey Ahab
  10. Gone to Shiloh
  11. Jimmie Rodgers’ Dream
  12. Monkey Suit
  13. The Best Part of the Day
  14. A Dream Come True
  15. When Love is Dying
  16. Hearts Have Turned to Stone
  17. Never Too Old (To Hold Somebody)
  18. In The Hands of Angels
  19. Burn Down the Mission
  20. Levon
  21. Tiny Dancer
  22. I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
  23. Daniel
  24. Candle in the Wind
  25. Take Me to the Pilot
  26. Sad Songs (Say So Much)
  27. The Bitch Is Back
  28. (encore) Your Song