Thank Grog It’s Firday!!
It’s been a rough week out here in the baking, hot, West. I know there are some of you from AZ, and we have a few from the Middle East, where 115 degrees is common. But, dingdangitallgoodgolly it is hot out there! Records on Wed and Thurs…a good to time to sit inside, in the AC (sorry to Al Gore) and write a Friday Filler post.
I realize that this update is not exactly easy for some, as hunting down fans and lawyers is a PITA (that last one is arse, according to Alissa). But, I’m having a blast creating my version of a “bad rock concert” in my Springfield. I am doing it as an homage to the “Woodstock 99” festival that pretty much ended any ideas of “Peace, Love and Music” by being staged at an old Air Force Base…on concrete…without enough water or toilets…and resulted in fans rioting, and setting fire to the place…on live MTV. Cool.
I built my Rock Arena right next to my airport…behind the town dump and rail yard. I’m guessing the music that the likes of Homer and the ghost of Bleeding Gums Murphy concoct there, is in the “perfect place.”
This got me thinking to the “good old days” of concerts…
First of all…I am going to admit that the “Good Old Days” for any generation is completely relative, and based on your own personal journey. As Carly Simon said, “These are the good old days!”
But, sorry…when it comes to concerts…that isn’t the case, at least for me.
I’m old. I get it. And yes, because of my past incarnations in and around broadcasting and music (sorry to those who are sick of me referencing that…it is what it is…LOL), I have a different view in regards to “My Favorite Concerts Ever!”
Let’s start with the price…
Back in “the day,” bands made money from records, and publishing, and all sorts of other ways, and didn’t have to rely as much on concerts for income, as they do now, in the “nobody buys musics anymore” world. For this reason, concerts were cheap in comparison…even allowing for inflation.
My first concert ever? The Beatles… Memorial Colosseum…Portland, OR. August 22nd, 1965. I was just getting ready to start 6th grade…and the ticket cost was $6.50 (with handling charge). It was not my favorite concert ever, because after all of the build up…we could hardly hear a thing over the screaming…and we had nose-bleed seats. But damn…we had the “cool factor” at school for weeks.
My next real rock concert wasn’t until 1970…again at the Memorial Colosseum…Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, playing what was to become part of the live 4-Way-Street album…at the height of their popularity…before Stills and Young got into a fist fight in Malibu, and they broke up. Amazing. One of the best ever…and it was just $12. I was in row 4…dead center…close enough to see real tears from Crosby when he sang “Triad.” As a side-note…I saw CS&N three summers ago at the Cuthbert, here in Eugene. It was awful. Stills couldn’t sing…and didn’t seem to notice…and the tension on the stage was palpable. The tickets were $125 each.
Unfortunately, for me…this last bit has been the story for the most part…in that I saw, or produced so many concerts over the years, that were amazing for one reason or another…and at the height of the performer’s talents…for a FRACTION of the cost that tickets cost now…that it kind just puts me off to seeing huge shows these days.
Elton John? Saw him 3 times…when he was great…not a Vegas act.
James Taylor? Always good…but kinda the same…with the ticket prices just getting more expensive.
The Eagles? Saw them a bunch of times when they cared…
Jeff Beck? Never a bad show. Ever…but, he is always with some act that he has to be “polite” to…last time it was ZZ Top. He was polite…I wanted him to blow them off of the stage.
The next concert I am going to see? Tedeschi Trucks Band…this married pair rocks it…and Derek Trucks may just be the greatest slide player on the planet. I paid big bucks to sit row 4, dead center. I’m pretty sure I won’t be disappointed.
As far as favorite concerts in the past…there are four that stand out…each for different reasons. And saying that, when I have seen over 600 shows over the years, makes it hard…like choosing just three top albums, or movies, or books.
But, I’ll try…
#4. Linda Ronstadt with Jackson Browne and the Eagles…for $1.02 at the Paramount in Portland for Kink’s “catch a rising star” series. Amazing. Linda…sooooooo hot.
#3. A bar-owner friend of mine allowed me to “produce” the first Dave Matthews show at his bar in early 1995. The place held just over 200…bursting at the seams. Dave and his band played for almost 5 hours…for a $10 cover. Next time he came through six months later, he was at the Cuthbert…from then on, nothing but arenas. Lightening in a bottle there.
#2. Little Feat and Melissa Etheridge- Masonic Temple- 1989. This was the “come back tour” of Little Feat…the first since the band broke up after Lowell George’s death in 1979. These guys were my favorite band for years…”Waiting for Columbus” is still my favorite live album ever. So this one was a “must see.” Melissa came out to open…solo…with just an acoustic guitar…and my first thought was, “this crowd is going to eat her alive…they are here for some rock!” I was wrong. She kicked ass. She blew us away. She was amazing. This was the first show of the tour…and Feat played like someone who had been locked in prison, getting a chance to have their first beer…and then pulling out a keg. It was epic. Sweaty…tight...and rocking.
#1. This may not surprise you…but for me, there is no way I can say “this show was the best ever” because I have a HUGE range of musical tastes and loves. So…I’ll cluster 5 shows at the top…because they were all so different.
1-1-Peter Gabriel…Tacoma Dome (Up tour)…one of my favorite artists of all time. Brought it. Amazing band…amazing writing…and theatrics that blew my mind.
1-2-Randy Newman- Britt Festival…solo…did an hour interview with him after…he is still one of my top three favorite writer/artists of all time.
1-3-Lyle Lovett with John Hiatt…acoustic, no backing band…3 hours of two of my favorite “quirky cowboys” laying it out.
1-4-Ladysmith Black Mambazo on their first American tour…just after Paul Simon brought them to fame with his song “Homeless.” I wept…openly…throughout most of the show…their inner beauty and amazing A Capella voices reaching into my heart…and giving it a gentle squeeze.
1-5-Strength in Numbers, Telluride Bluegrass Festival. The best of the “Newgrass Guys” getting together for what became one, epic, album. Look it up. Nobody still compares.
There you have it…that’s as close as I can come to “my favorites,” knowing that I am leaving out TONS.
So What Are YOUR favorite concerts of all time? There are no wrong answers… Music is a personal thing…but, I will warn you, if you don’t “get” Randy Newman and Tom Waits, we will likely not be close friends…LOL!