Jethro Tull: 4/30/2002

I’m pretty sure this was my first concert after moving to Asheville, although I might have seen Moe Tucker from the Velvet Underground first (I don’t have a stub from that show and I can’t recall when it was). Anyway, I’ve always been a Tull fan, so I figured I had to go and see them again. I hate to say it, but I was disappointed.

Having seen Jethro Tull in the late 70s, it was tough to live up to that experience. Even so, this performance was just downright sad, in my opinion.

I went by myself, since funds were tight at that time and my wife opted to pass. So I was very focused on the band’s playing, which seemed to lack enthusiasm, especially on the standards. It was almost like, “Yeah, here’s your Cross-Eyed Mary.” There were a few exceptions, most notably was “Pibroch (Cap in Hand),” which I thought was great. Martin Barre’s guitar work on that one was phenomenal. But by the time the show was over, I was yawning. As I exited alone, I recalled an article I had read years back that criticized Tull and called them Jethro Dull. I felt a little sad that the creative and powerful prog rockers that were such a huge part of my musical upbringing had lost their edge. It happens.

I would go on to see Ian Anderson solo, and Martin Barre solo too after this, and I really enjoyed both of those. If the band reunited, I’d consider seeing them again, just on the hope that they might rekindle their earlier spark.

Here’s the setlist from the show.

Setlist:

  • Aqua-Intro
  • Living in the Past
  • Cross-Eyed Mary
  • Roots to Branches
  • Jack-in-the-Green
  • Thick as a Brick
  • Hunt by Numbers
  • Elegy
  • A Song for Jeffrey
  • The Water Carrier
  • The Secret Language of Birds
  • Wond’ring Aloud
  • Pibroch (Cap in Hand)
  • A New Day Yesterday
  • Boris Dancing
  • Budapest
  • Mayhem Jig
  • Aqualung
  • Locomotive Breath
  • Sweet Dream
  • Protect and Survive
  • Cheerio
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Stevie Nicks and Joe Walsh: 11/5/1983

This was a pretty cool double bill, and it was during that period in the 80s when Stevie Nicks was enjoying a solid solo career. It was part of the Wild Heart tour.

We had seats behind the stage, but it was the Sportatorium in the 80s, so essentially you went and sat wherever you wanted (unless someone bigger than you with a ticket claimed the seat). We managed to secure some seats about halfway back on the side, which were decent.

Joe Walsh opened the show, and he was wasted. He slurred his words and was pretty sloppy. This would not be the only time I would see Walsh trashed on stage. He earned his reputation as a lush.

After a break, Stevie came out. She had a tent set up on stage, and I would soon discover what the tent was for. Frequently, between songs, she would go off into the tent, and after a while, come back out wearing a new dress. I don’t mind a couple costume changes, but she was definitely taking advantage. In addition, she would take what seemed like an unusually long time to change her outfit. I couldn’t help wondering if she was powdering her nose also while in there, so to speak.

In spite of the drunkenness and the interminable breaks between songs, it was still a good show. Here are the respective setlists.

Joe Walsh Setlist

  • Rocky Mountain Way
  • Ordinary Average Guy
  • The Confessor
  • Walk Away
  • A Life of Illusion
  • Life’s Been Good

Stevie Nicks Setlist

  • Gold Dust Woman
  • Outside the Rain
  • Dreams
  • I Need to Know
  • Sara
  • If Anyone Falls
  • Leather and Lace
  • Stand Back
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Gypsy
  • How Still My Love
  • Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around
  • Edge of Seventeen

Encore:

  • Rhiannon

Robert Plant: 7/1/1985

So if you are paying attention, you will notice that the date on the stub and the date of this show do not match up. That’s because, even though this was an indoor concert, it was postponed due to rain. If you grew up in South Florida in the 70s and 80s, you would remember the barn of a venue that was the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium, which was such a shithole that when it rained, water threatened to pour down on the stage.

The Sportatorium roof was infamous for occasionally leaking over the stage (and performers) or the audience during heavy rainfalls. Robert Plant postponed a 1985 concert for one day due to leaks in the roof, and remarked to the crowd the following night, “This is the first gig I’ve ever done that was rained out inside the building.”

(Source: Wikipedia)

We had driven out to Pembroke Pines on the Sunday, since we hadn’t heard the news about the postponement, and we were turned away along with a bunch of other concertgoers (read Sun Sentinel article about cancellation). Thankfully, there were no conflicts preventing us from returning the following night. Since this was my first time seeing Robert Plant, I would have been devastated if I had to return my ticket.

Anyway, the next day, we made the trek (again) out to the Sport-hole, and this time we were treated to an awesome performance by Plant. He was touring in support of the Shaken and Stirred album, but he also included a short Honeydrippers set, which was very cool. I was slightly disappointed that he didn’t play any Zeppelin tunes on this tour, but I guess he was trying to establish himself apart from his past. I can respect that, but it would have been cool to toss in one or two songs. But the quality of what he did play certainly made up for it, and I would see Plant perform Zep stuff at future shows, particularly when he performed with Jimmy Page.

Here’s the setlist—there was good rockin’ at midnight!

Setlist

Robert Plant

  • In the Mood
  • Pledge Pin
  • Pink and Black
  • Little by Little
  • Burning Down One Side
  • Too Loud
  • Thru’ With the Two Step
  • Other Arms
  • Messin’ With the Mekon
  • Slow Dancer

Honeydrippers

  • Rockin’ at Midnight
  • Young Boy Blues
  • Sea of Love
  • (Every Time I Hear) That Mellow Saxophone

Robert Plant

  • Like I’ve Never Been Gone
  • Easily Lead

Encore:

  • Big Log

Sarah McLachlan: 9/22/2018

Sarah McLachlan is not someone I usually listen to, but we have her first cd and I have listened to it a bit. I can appreciate her piano playing and her vocals are amazing, without question. When I saw she was coming to town, I looked at ticket prices, but they were a little out of my price range. But when I got an email announcing that a non-profit to which I belong was giving out free tickets, I put my name in, and my wife and I each got a freebie to the show.

This was a benefit concert to raise money for the pediatric cancer center, so it was a good cause. There were some speakers and a couple opening musical acts, one of which was quite good. His name was Andrew Reed, and he’s a local Asheville musician who I understand is actually on the Billboard charts now. I guess I’m a little out-of-touch. Anyway, he was good, and after he played Sarah came out.

What can I say about her? She was awesome! Her voice was as clear and powerful as it was 25 years ago. Even in the US Cellular Center, which has pretty crappy acoustics, her voice was crisp, vibrant, and unwavering. My wife had seen her years ago at the Lilith Fair, and she agreed that Sarah sounded just as great today as she did back then.

For whatever reason, the setlist for this particular night is not online, although the shows before and afterwards are available. The two I found are almost identical, and seem to match what I remember about the performance, so here is the setlist from Charleston on the 24th, which should be the about the same as the Asheville show.

Setlist:

  • Possession
  • I Will Remember You
  • Adia
  • Building a Mystery
  • Good Enough
  • Answer
  • Fallen
  • Beautiful Girl
  • In Your Shoes
  • Elsewhere
  • Rivers of Love
  • World on Fire
  • Sweet Surrender
  • Loving You Is Easy
  • Angel

Encore:

  • Untitled/unreleased song (“Into Your Wilderness”)
  • Song for My Father
  • Ice Cream
  • The Sound That Love Makes

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant: 3/6/1995

Seeing Plant and Page performing together is about as close as you can get to seeing Led Zeppelin without actually seeing Zep. This tour was booked after the rock gods appeared on MTV Unplugged. When they booked a show at the Miami Arena, I immediately got tickets for my wife and I to go. And not surprising, a good number of my friends also got tickets.

The Miami Arena was fairly small as far as arenas go, so getting to see Plant and Page here was great. We had seats straight back in the lower section, but could still see really well, and the sound was good.

Rusted Root was the opening act for this show. At the time, I had not heard of them, but I was immediately impressed by their music and stage presence. They totally had the place rockin’ and did not draw any wrath from the usually intolerant South Florida music crazies.

After a break, Plant and Page took the stage. It was awesome! They totally kicked ass from the first crushing notes to the very end. They had a solid band backing them up, which included Porl Thompson from The Cure.

  • Porl Thompson — guitar, banjo
  • Nigel Eaton — hurdy-gurdy
  • Charlie Jones — bass, percussion
  • Michael Lee — drums, percussion
  • Ed Shearmur — orchestral arrangements, organ
  • Jim Sutherland — mandolin, bodhran

What can I say about seeing Plant and Page together on stage? The image was so iconic, like they stepped right out of a poster from my teenage wall and exploded into reality. The energy was tangible, and I think half the crowd was hoarse by the end of the night. They played a great mix of hard-rockin’ Zep tunes, some acoustic stuff, and even a couple covers. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to choose songs from such an amazing catalog of music. If you think about it, there is no such thing as a bad Zeppelin song. Everything that they wrote was amazing.

It’s impossible for me to pick out high points from this show. It was all one big high point. That said, “Song Remains the Same” with Page on the double-neck guitar was amazing, and “Kashmir” to end the night was perfect. Here’s the full setlist, forged from the Hammer of the Gods.

Setlist

  • Tales of Bron
  • The Wanton Song
  • Bring It On Home
  • Celebration Day
  • Thank You
  • Dancing Days
  • Shake My Tree
  • Lullaby (The Cure cover)
  • No Quarter
  • Wonderful One
  • Hey Hey What Can I Do
  • Gallows Pole
  • Hurdy-Gurdy Solo
  • Nobody’s Fault but Mine
  • The Song Remains the Same
  • Since I’ve Been Loving You
  • Friends
  • Calling to You (w Dazed And Confused / The Hunter excerpts)
  • Four Sticks
  • In the Evening
  • Black Dog
  • Kashmir

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’

Cowboy Junkies: 3/2/2018

Cowboy Junkies are one of those bands that occupy a special place in my past. During the early years of our marriage, my wife and I would listen to them quite a bit. So when I saw they were coming in concert and playing the Diana Wortham Theater (a wonderful, intimate venue), I did not hesitate getting tickets for my wife and I.

I went with our eldest daughter (who was in town for the holidays) to purchase the tickets. Because I was buying well in advance, there were plenty of seats to choose from. I picked first row balcony right in the center, which proved to be amazing seats.

My wife and I got there shortly before showtime, and found our seats. Right next to us was a taper, so we talked with him a bit and he let us know that he would be uploading the show to archive.org. I found the show there, but have not listened to it (yet).

The lights went down and the show started, pretty much right on time. The band sounded great, and the acoustics were so perfect, you could hear everything beautifully. And Margo Timmins’ voice—as lovely as it was 30 years ago.

They played two solid sets and an encore. The songs were interspersed with some great stories. When the show was over, I left feeling uplifted, inspired, and happily nostalgic. Here are the set lists.

Set One:

  • I Don’t Get It
  • ‘Cause Cheap Is How I Feel
  • Mountain Stream
  • Missing Children
  • Southern Rain
  • 3rd Crusade
  • Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning
  • Escape Is So Simple
  • We Are The Selfish Ones

Set Two:

  • He Will Call You Baby
  • A Common Disaster
  • 200 More Miles
  • Lay It Down
  • Something More Besides You
  • Black Eyed Man
  • Lungs
  • Misguided Angel
  • I’m So Open
  • Sweet Jane
  • Blue Moon Revisited (Song For Elvis)

Encore:

  • Postcard Blues
  • Good Friday