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

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

Ian Anderson: 9/28/2012

I’m a long-time Jethro Tull fan, and grew up listening to Tull, so when I saw that Ian Anderson was coming to town to perform “Thick as a Brick: Parts 1 and 2” in their entirety, there was not even a question of whether I would go or not. I purchased tickets for my wife and I, and began to familiarize myself with the new “Thick as a Brick: Pt 2” that had just been released. It is good, but alas, not as good as the first one—it’s tough to match a masterpiece.

We had good seats, orchestra center, and the venue was nice and intimate. Ian came out with his band and broke right into the classic first album of TaaB. I was basically mesmerized. Ian did not sing the whole time; he had a young singer with him who filled in on the more challenging vocal parts. I thought this was a good move on Ian’s part. I’m pretty sure he suffers from hearing loss and struggles with some of the vocal parts.

But his flute playing, still phenomenal! He was flamboyant and animated every time he raised that flute to his chin. There is no one in the world who rocks the flute like he does.

After part 1, there was an intermission before part 2. During the intermission, there was a humorous shadow performance which served as a Public Service Announcement, encouraging men to get checked for prostate cancer. Something us old rockers gotta do!

Part 2 was great, but again, I love the original TaaB, so it was not quite as moving for me as the first half.

For an encore, they performed “Locomotive Breath.” Perfect song to close the night!

Overall, this was a great show, better in fact than the last time I saw Tull, in my humble opinion. The only thing lacking was it would have been cool if Martin Barre was on guitar (I do love Martin’s playing). But the guitarist Ian had was no slouch. Left totally happy.

Rock on!!

Ray LaMontagne: 11/12/2017

I had seen Ray LaMontagne some years before this show at the Christmas Jam, and he was very good, but didn’t come on stage until about 1:30 in the morning, so I was somewhat less than enthused. But since then, I have developed a strong appreciation for his music and was very psyched to see him as a headliner.

My wife and I arrived at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium and were greeted by our friends Wind and Althea, who were sitting two rows behind us. We chatted with them for a while, which was nice. It’s good to catch up with old friends that you haven’t seen in a while.

The show began promptly at 7:00 with Ethan Gruska as the opening act. He wasn’t the worst opening act I have seen, but definitely not the best either.

Finally, Ray came out. He had John Stirratt, the bass player from Wilco, with him. Also, on several songs, Ethan Gruska came out and assisted on three-part harmonies, which sounded great. I thought Gruska was much better as part of a group than by himself.

Ray’s set was excellent. He sounded amazing and the audience was very appreciative, almost to a fault. There were several people screaming during some of the more subtle moments, which I could have done without. And that leads me to a story about the people in front of us. Of course, we had to be behind a couple who were getting drunker and more obnoxious as the night went on. The guy kept trying to put his arm around the woman and inadvertently kept hitting my wife’s knee. Finally, during the last song of the encore, their talking hit fever pitch, at which point my wife leaned forward and nicely asked them if they could please not talk until after the show, to which the guy indignantly and loudly replied “NO!” I felt my muscles tense and had visions of me having to fight this jerk, but alas, he stopped talking for the rest of the song, and the person next to my wife gave her a high five.

After the lights came on, we saw several other of our friends, which was nice. I love seeing people I know at concerts. I don’t know why, but it just makes it feel more communal.

I looked at several of the setlists from the tour and it seems that the list was standard across shows. It seems right from what I remember, so here is the generic setlist from the tour.

Setlist:

  • No Other Way
  • Beg Steal or Borrow
  • Lavender
  • Shelter
  • In My Own Way
  • Airwaves
  • Hannah
  • Pick Up a Gun
  • Such a Simple Thing
  • Blue Canadian Rockies
  • Burn
  • Empty
  • To the Sea
  • Supernova
  • Like Rock & Roll and Radio
  • Trouble

Encore:

  • Jolene
  • All the Wild Horses
  • Wouldn’t It Make a Lovely Photograph

Joni Mitchell: 5/17/2000

At the time, this was the most expensive concert ticket I had purchased to date; but I have always loved Joni’s music and my wife is a huge Joni Mitchell fan, so I had no qualms about buying tickets for this show and spending a little extra for good seats.

What can I say about this show? She was magical on stage, and even though her voice had the smoky quality to it, she was enchanting for the entire performance. When I picture in my mind’s eye an image of a creative, intelligent, and inspiring woman, it’s someone like Joni Mitchell that I see. She’s a cultural icon who, in my humble opinion, has made a tremendous impact on our society and the world as a whole. Thank you, Joni, for all you do!

I noticed that on Joni’s website she has the setlist from the concert, as well as some great pictures. Please visit the site and enjoy the images. Here is the setlist from the concert. By the way, “Both Sides Now” had me on the verge of tears.

Setlist:

  • Orchestral Overture
  • You’re My Thrill
  • At Last
  • Comes Love
  • You’ve Changed
  • Answer Me, My Love
  • A Case Of You
  • Don’t Go To Strangers
  • Sometimes I’m Happy
  • Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me
  • Stormy Weather
  • I Wish I Were In Love Again
  • Both Sides Now
  • Be Cool
  • Judgement Of The Moon And Stars (Ludwig’s Tune)
  • Hejira
  • For The Roses
  • Trouble Man

Camera Obscura: 6/3/2010

cameraobscura_6-3-10

Camera Obscura is an indie band from Scotland. I had some friends who listened to them and the stuff I heard I liked, so when they booked a show in Asheville, I convinced my friend Joe to go along with me.

The bad sounded good, but they seemed a little tired on stage. It’s possible that travelling had taken its toll, or maybe they had overindulged. Whatever the case, they were not that energetic. But musically, they were tight and the songs sounded solid. It could also have been that they were a low-energy band on stage. Some bands are like that—great on recordings and less so live. Anyway, I enjoyed the show overall and bought a vinyl copy of “My Maudlin Career” from the concession stand, which was their most-recent album at the time. It’s a good album and I still listen to it occasionally.

Not much else to say about this show. If you’re into the indie stuff, like Belle and Sebastian, then you should check this band out too.

Cheers!

Aimee Mann: 2/4/2003

aimeemann_2-4-03

I went to this show with my wife, who is a big Aimee Mann fan. I had seen Aimee years back with Til Tuesday and I also really liked her music, so I was pretty psyched to go too. In fact, around this time, the soundtrack to “Magnolia,” which is comprised of mostly Aimee Mann tunes, was getting a lot of play on the CD player in the car.

We went to the Orange Peel and ran into people we knew there. It’s always cool to see friends at a concert. It just makes it more fun.

Aimee is the epitome of cool on stage. In fact, she seemed way cooler than I remember her back with Til Tuesday. She just had the total hip vibe, and she sounded amazing. The high points for me were definitely “Driving Sideways” and “Save Me.”

One big surprise was when they performed a cover version of Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” with the guitarist handling the lead vocals. Having spent many years in South Florida, my tolerance for Lynyrd Skynyrd is pretty low, but I have to confess, they did a rousing version and it was fun singing along with everyone in the crowd. Definitely one of the rare instances when I actually enjoyed a Skynyrd cover tune.

Anyway, that’s about all I have to share. If you get a chance to see Aimee in concert, I recommend doing so. She’s very, very good live.

Rock on!

Lindsay Buckingham: 3/19/2007

buckingham_3-19-07

When I heard that Lindsay Buckingham was coming to The Orange Peel, a small venue that holds about 1000 people, I thought it would be cool to go, but I did not bother getting a ticket. I liked Fleetwood Mac, and appreciated Lindsay’s guitar playing and vocals, but didn’t want to spend the money.

Anyway, the day of the concert, my next door neighbor texted me that he was sick as a dog and could not go, and asked if I wanted his ticket for free. I graciously accepted, walked over and got the ticket, and told him I hoped he felt better soon.

I went by myself to the show, but that was fine. The crowd was really into the music and Lindsay sounded amazing. He played a solid mix of solo material and Fleetwood Mac tunes. I danced and had a great time. I felt sorry that my friend had to miss the show, but I was glad the ticket came my way instead of going to waste.


Setlist:

  • Not Too Late
  • Trouble
  • Never Going Back Again
  • Second Hand News
  • Cast Away Dreams
  • Red Rover
  • It Was You
  • Big Love
  • Go Insane
  • Under the Skin
  • World Turning
  • I’m So Afraid
  • I Know I’m Not Wrong
  • Tusk
  • Go Your Own Way

Encore:

  • Holiday Road
  • Turn It On
  • Show You How
  • Shut Us Down

The Police with The Fixx and Eric Burdon and the Animals: 10/28/1983

Police_10-28-83

As the ticket stub shows, this concert was originally supposed to be at the Miami Baseball Stadium. But because of the huge demand for tickets, the concert was moved to the Orange Bowl, a much larger venue. Even in the big stadium, it was a packed mob scene.

I went with my girlfriend at the time and my brother Mike. We got there plenty early, since it was general admission and I wanted to see The Animals, who were opening the show. The Animals were great and Eric Burdon’s voice was strong. The only downer song was “House of the Rising Sun.” They kind of changed the arrangement around and it felt like they were playing it half-assed. I felt like, really? I’m sure you are getting tired of the song, but if you are going to play it, at least put some energy into it and realize that it is such an iconic song that futzing with the arrangement  is akin to Led Zeppelin playing a reggae version of “Stairway to Heaven.”

The Fixx played next, and they were cool. They had some hits at the time: “Saved By Zero” and “One Thing Leads to Another.” They definitely had a good energy and light show. Plus, their style fit in well with The Police.

So I have to say that The Police were way better live than I expected. They always seemed more like a studio band than a good live act. But I was pleasantly surprised. They were really high-energy and sounded great, even in an acoustic hell hole like the Orange Bowl. My big complaint, though, was the overcrowding. It was really uncomfortable to be mashed among so many people sweating in the South Florida heat for the entire day. But other than that—good times!

Here is the Police’s setlist, courtesy of setlist.fm:

  1. Voices Inside My Head
  2. Synchronicity I
  3. Synchronicity II
  4. Walking in Your Footsteps
  5. Message in a Bottle
  6. Walking on the Moon
  7. My God
  8. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
  9. Wrapped Around Your Finger
  10. Tea in the Sahara
  11. Hole in My Life
  12. Spirits in the Material World
  13. Invisible Sun
  14. One World (Not Three)
  15. King of Pain
  16. Don’t Stand So Close to Me
  17. Every Breath You Take
  18. Murder by Numbers
  19. Roxanne
  20. (encore) Can’t Stand Losing You / Reggatta de Blanc
  21. (encore) So Lonely

Spirit: 3/31/1981

Spirit_3-31-81

Spirit was one of those bands that the first time I heard them, I was floored. I had a friend named Paul and he was excited one day because he had just bought the Best of Spirit. We listened to it and the next day I went to the record store and bought a copy of the album. It basically lived on my turntable for weeks afterwards.

The Agora Ballroom was a club in Hallandale, Florida, which is just north of Miami. The club later became the infamous Button South, but when I went to see Spirit there, it was still the Agora.

Although the band only featured two of the original members, Randy California and Ed Cassidy, they were amazing. Randy’s guitar work and vocals were stellar and the band ripped through almost everything I wanted to hear. The only song that they didn’t play which I would have loved to see them perform was “Mechanical World,” a very dark, apocalyptic anti-war song.

Spirit was one of those bands that never became as popular as they should have. I like to say that they are the best band you’ve never heard of, although you’ve probably heard their songs, like “I Got A Line On You,” “Nature’s Way,” and “Fresh Garbage.” Also, it has been asserted that Jimmy Page stole the main musical theme for “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirit’s “Taurus.” (There is a lawsuit against Page seeking to give credit to Randy California for the song.)

If you’re not familiar with Spirit’s music, I strongly encourage you to check them out. “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus” is one of my all-time favorite albums. They were so ahead of their time and their music sounds as fresh and exciting today as it did when I first heard them back in the late 70’s.

You have the world at your fingertips
No one can make it better than you
You have the world at your fingertips
But see what you’ve done to the rain and the sun
So many changes have all just begun, to reap
I know you’re asleep
Wake up

(“Prelude” from Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus)