Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rockin' the house

I've been to dozens of concerts over the years. I even remember most of them, though one of our frequent blog contributers could tell you an interesting story about the Emerson, Lake and Palmer concert that I missed in its entirity. Since it's been 30-some years since I started attending shows regularly, I was thinking the other day about what I would consider the best concert I ever saw. Some of my favorites over the years have been shows by Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, the Police and Elvis Costello, Blondie and Rockpile, Jimmy Buffett (1980s era) and Kiss (late '70s, and a major contributor to my eventual hearing loss). But if I could relive one concert experience, it would be the Three Rivers Stadium show in about 1977 featuring Peter Frampton and the Beach Boys. Frampton was at the absolute height of the "Frampton Comes Alive" hysteria, and the Beach Boys were not yet considered a nostalgia act. In fact, the Beach Boys (who I've seen more times than any other group), closed the show and had fans chanting for them even before Frampton finished his set. I was one of them. I guess it was just the fact that when we were 18 or 19 years old, the summers truly did seem endless, and the Beach Boys provided a soundtrack for our lives (even though we didn't surf). I'd like to hear from you about your favorite shows, and even concerts you wish you had seen (My biggest regret is not catching Bob Marley and the Wailers). You can also feel free to share your funny concert stories. Who knows, I might have been that idiot you saw draped over a car hood in the parking lot at the Civic Arena in 1979.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in December 1969 at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. Their groundbreaking CSN album had been out only since June and it was just a few months after Woodstock. Young had just joined the band. This was long before huge rock tours were de riguer, so it was quite an experience. Surprisingly, the arena was not sold out. They opened with an acoustic set in front of a curtain. After that set, the curtain was dropped to reveal a massive wall of amplifiers. No one had seen anything like it before. I recorded the show on a stereo cassette deck -- it was still legal to do so back then. What a night!

In 1971 I saw Emerson,Lake and Palmer at the Stanley Theater -- their first tour. No one actually knew what Moog synthesizer was back then, but when Emerson leapt into the audience on the second tune with the Moog's ribbon controller, the place went nuts. Procul Harum was supposedly the headliner, but people walked out halfway through their set. No comparison.

Another favorite show was Peter Gabriel at Syria Mosque in the mid 1970s. The band marched in from the back of the hall, all playing drums, which led into "The Rhythm of the Heat." Very theatrical, although not nearly as much as Gabriel's shows are now.

I also saw Yes in the round at the Arena when a crazed fan made it onstage and grabbed singer Jon Anderson in bear hug from behind. Anderson continued to sing but when the fan lifted him off the ground, the band stopped. What happened next was like one of those cartoon fights you see -- a big ball of arms and legs as roadies rushed to rescue Jon. Jon & the fan somehow came out of the ball and Jon walked him offstage then calmly picked up singing where he had left off.

Elton John and Billy Joel at Three Rivers was amazing. McCartney at the Arena was great, too.

September 17, 2008 at 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter has not nearly so much hair bow. But do any of us?

September 17, 2008 at 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miles Davis played Atlanta when I was going to college there and, like a fool, I didn't go. If I had it all to do over again, I would have checked it out.

George Harrison hosted a quickly-organized benefit concert at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1992 for the Natural Law Party only three days before I arrived. I've seen Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr many times each (and have met both), but never got the chance to meet George or see him play live (he only toured twice in his post-Beatles career -- a tour of America in '74, and a brief tour of Japan with Eric Clapton in '91. He was not a road warrior, to say the least).

Favorite shows would include McCartney at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1990, Bob Dylan at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor in 1996 (small venue, great seats), Johnny Cash at the State Theater in Detroit in '94 (our seats were so good it was like Johnny Cash playing in your living room), Bruce Springsteen at the Petersen Events Center in '05, Elvis Costello solo at the Atlanta Civic Center in 1987, Paul Simon's "Graceland" tour in '87 (our seats were in the front row) and Ravi Shankar at the University of Michigan in '96.

Another great favorite: the "Conspiracy of Hope" concert that came to Atlanta in June 1986. It was a six-city tour benefiting Amnesty International, and the bill consisted of U2, The Police, Peter Gabriel, Bryan Adams, Lou Reed, the Neville Brothers and Joan Baez.It was 9 months before "The Joshua Tree" came out and U2 blew the roof off the place.

--Brad Hundt

September 17, 2008 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

My favorite show, hands down, has to be Paul McCartney in 2002. He played all the hits. It was amazing. I also saw Julian Lennon at some small venue in Pittsburgh back in the eatly 2000s. I forget the name of the place but I'm pretty sure it's not there any longer. He also played all the hit. I shouldn't be dissing him because it was a really great show. Getting Brian Wilson's autograph at Star Lake after he opened for Paul Simon was a pretty cool moment. A buddy of mine gave Chris Martin of Coldplay a high five as Martin walked through the aisles of Star Lake during a show. Springsteen always puts on a great show. Petty was awesome. I've become a big fan of seeing Wilco live (thanks Toby). Petty Rocks as did Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan and even Jewel.

September 17, 2008 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Oops I mentioned Petty twice. Oops nothing! That guys rocks doubley hard!

September 17, 2008 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I always feel like a dork when you music people start reminiscing... I don't really enjoy the whole idea of a concert... So, I don't go to them... I have been to 1 concert (it sucked, I didn't enjoy it at all) and that was because my girlfriend at the time wanted to go...

I guess i will sit over here and pout while you guys have fun :-)


September 17, 2008 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

OK, Ellipses, here's a question just for you. If you could have one musical artist come and play in your backyard, who would it be?

September 17, 2008 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Wow... that's so hard!

Since I'm not really a "music guy"-- ie, I just kind of randomly "like" different stuff at different times... It would change rather drastically from day to day. Overall, though... I would have to go with either Tom Petty or Aerosmith.

However, if I am building my own little private concert, I would have Lil' Wayne open for Gordon Lightfoot... GL would only play the wreck of the edmund fitzgerald... then, Petty would play through all the classics, followed by Aerosmith, who would also play the classics, with the addition of Hangman Jury. Lightfoot would come out for an encore performance of Edmund Fitzgerald... and as everyone was leaving, Gary Brolthsma would lip sync the Numa Numa dance song on the jumbotron. Then, we'd all retire to the living room where we'd drink wine and listen to some Gregorian Chant... performed by none other than the benedictine monks of santo domingo de silos. THEN I would apologize to friends and family for being such a tool.


September 17, 2008 at 6:27 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

With respect to the tool, er, ellipses, I have some concert memories to share. I actually was at the Emerson Lake & Palmer concert that Brant missed. You see, I was smart enough to avoid "some bad fish." It was a fantastic concert...much better than I'd ever thought it would be. And to top that off, not only did I see a wonderful concert, but I also witnessed what was quite possibly the most vomit ever produced by a single man.

I was at the Frampton concert with Brant. (Remember "North 40?") I promised my mother that I wouldn't smoke or drink anything if she would let me go. I wasn't two miles from the house when I was smoking a joint and knocking back the first of what would be many beers. The Beach Boys were fantastic. I saw them twice after that, and they never, ever disappointed.

I saw Ted Nugent and AC/DC back when the latter was good...Bon Scott was still alive. I thought they were better than the headliner Nugent. However I saw Ted again a while later (Wango Tango, Great White Buffalo) and he was awesome. Still not the best, though.

Before I ramble on and wax too nostalgic, I'll quickly list some of my favorites in addition to the ones I mentioned above, and then my all-time favorite.

Great concerts:
Slim Whitman (discussed in a previous blog), Leon Redbone, Bob Seger, Simon & Garfunkel, KISS, Statler Brothers, Foghat, Allman Brothers (all 4 times), Foreigner (in their first American appearance at the Wheeling Civic Center), Charlie Daniels, and Billy Joel (The Stranger tour).

The all-time best concert I ever saw was Bruce Springsteen at the Stanley Theater on the Born To Run tour in 1977. Great seats, a four-hour show, no political songs or commentary, no Patti Scialfa. Aside from the fantastic catalog of music he'd amassed to that point in his career, probably the best moment in the concert for me was when he sang the old classic "Pretty Flamingo." Before he sang the song, the band left the stage and Bruce, in the light of a lone spotlight, told the story of a girl he loved from afar when he was in high school. He was telling my story. The story lasted about 20 minutes, and you could have heard a pin drop in the theater. And then he started the song with his acoustic guitar, soon to be joined by Miami Steve, and then the rest of the band joined them one by one and the song morphed from a single man with an acoustic guitar into a moving ballad with the full E Street Band. I remember it like it was yesterday. I never saw a performer have total control of an audience like he did that night. I saw him twice more, and each show was phenomenal, but none compared to those four hours at the Stanley.

I also saw Aerosmith at the peak of their drug abuse years and not long before they imploded. It was easily one of the worst shows I ever saw. I know they're better now that they're clean, but damn was that show bad.

September 17, 2008 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

So... uh... that one concert I went to...

Black Eyed Peas opened for No Doubt.

I'm sorry... really, I am.

-ellipses :-(

September 17, 2008 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Fergie and Gwen Stefani together...plug your ears and fantasize!

But yeah, you ought to be ashamed.

September 17, 2008 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Priguy, who could forget our old friend "North 40"? THAT GUY might be the one who expelled more fluids than anyone in history. It seemed like he was retching periodically for hours. And, go figure, nobody wanted to sit near him. But here's the best part. A couple of years ago, I see this guy, about our age, wearing an old "North 40" football jersey. It was all I could do not to ask him, "Hey, were you the guy who was violently ill at the Beach Boys-Frampton show back in the '70s?" Also, correct me if I'm remembering this incorrectly, but while stuck in the backed-up traffic on the parkway, waiting to go through the tunnels, weren't we openly trading contraband with strangers in the car next to us? In broad daylight, mind you. What a day.

September 17, 2008 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Don't be ashamed of your lone concert. A guy I work with once attended a show (because a female wanted to see it) featuring, among others, Dinosaur Junior, Tone Loc, Milli Vanilli and Paula Abdul. Yikes.

September 17, 2008 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Dale Lolley said...

I saw Galactic at a bar show in the Strip District one night, they were very good.
I've seen Pearl Jam three times and all three were good, though the night Iggy Pop opened for them at Star Lake was outstanding. A friend and I went in early to see Iggy and were two of about 1,000 people who went in early. It was worth it.
The White Stripes at the Palumbo were good.
But I think my favorite was Elton John at Blossom Music Center in Cleveland in 1986. Elton was still changing outfits between songs at that point and hadn't started doing music for the Lion King or anything like that.
I worked security for a Bon Jovi-Skid Row show in Johnstown when I was in college. You couldn't have been any closer to the stage than I was. We were posted right in front of the band, looking out at the crowd.
As one can imagine for a Bon Jovi concert, the ladies in attendance were quite happy to see Jon and the boys and gave us quite a show.
We did have to throw some people out, though. And that's where the good part comes.
One dude was causing a riot in the pit. Several Pitt football players were there working security with us and we yanked the guy out of the crowd. He was obviously high on something and was kicking and screaming the whole time. I grabbed one leg, another guy grabbed another and two guys grabbed his arms. Next thing I know, one of the football players - all 250 pounds or so of him - leaps over a bar and lands right on the guy's chest as the cops came in to put the cuffs on him.
They cuffed him and carried him out by his arms as he kicked and screamed.
That dude had to wake up the next day feeling like he'd been rung through a ringer washing machine.

September 17, 2008 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I do indeed remember trading contraband while stuck in traffic. I also clearly remember a guy walking by the car and we exchanged inebriated whoops and hollers and cheers, and he yelled at me, "What's happenin' man?" I was a naive pothead from Taylorstown in the big city. I needed to say something cool, so I yelled back, "Not much, baby!" He ran back to the car and said, "What'd you say, Bitch?" Scared the hell out of me...big city boy wanting to kick my ass.

September 17, 2008 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Park Burroughs said...

I guess this one dates me...August 23, 1968, Long Island, NY, in order of appearance, Soft Machine, Chambers Brothers, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Jimi Hendrix.
Two other more recent concerts in Pittsburgh are also memorable:
- Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler at the Civic Arena.
- Stevie Ray Vaughn at the Syria Mosque, with brother Jimmy and the Thunderbirds warming it up.

September 18, 2008 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I've got to admit I had never heard of Soft Machine. Loved the Fabulous T-Birds. Owned a couple of their early albums on vinyl, until Hurricane Ivan came through. It's a pretty good trump card when someone starts talking about the great shows they've seen to be able to say, "Back when I saw Hendrix ..." Sweet.

September 18, 2008 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Moe said...

Elton John & Billy Joel at Three Rivers Stadium was the very best concert I ever attended.
I had floor tickets for KISS at the Civic Arena back in the 80s. I got myself grounded and had to GIVE my tickets away to my mom's friends. Just another hand to the forehead moment now that I'm older.

September 19, 2008 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Would you like to share with our readers what you did to get grounded? That might be very interesting. KISS was great, by the way. Sorry.

September 19, 2008 at 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite concerts:

Stevie Ray Vaughn - Star Lake
The Who - Civic Arena
Crosby, Stills, and Nash - Civic Arena
Little Charlie and the Night Cats - The Decade
J.Geils Band - at about 10 different venues
Roy Buchanon - Bethany College

September 19, 2008 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Moe said...

I got busted by Guntown's finest skinny dipping at Town Park pool after hours.
I heard KISS rocked and thanks for sharing that with me.
Oh to be young again ...

September 21, 2008 at 6:23 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Hmmmmm. It seems we've just scratched the surface of this story. I'm wondering, who were you with when this happened, and ... are there photos? ;)

September 21, 2008 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Wasn't she like 14?


September 21, 2008 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Damned if I know. Math not a strong point. I get confused when someone says, "If you have six eggs and you give someone two eggs ..." What the hell am I, an egg broker?

September 22, 2008 at 4:53 AM  
Blogger miss bess said...

One of my favorite shows was The Magnetic Fields at the Somerville (Mass.) Theater in 2000. It was my last year in college and one of my all-time favorite bands, just after their release of the three CD set, 69 Love Songs. I could only afford to see one night of the two-night set, in which they performed all 69 songs in order, as they are on the CD collection. It was terrific and they performed well. Love that band...

September 22, 2008 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger miss bess said...

Brant - An easy math problem for you: If you have five O-R employees (past and present) at a picnic, the power goes out and the cheese plate has been emptied, how many of them continue drinking heavily...

September 22, 2008 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Answer to the last question: At least four.
Question: If my friend thinks the Magnetic Fields is a great band and owns their CDs, why am I not in possession of any of their music?

September 22, 2008 at 11:40 PM  
Blogger miss bess said...

OK ok ok. I got the hint. CDs to come my friend...uhhh, not that copying music is good. Err...

September 23, 2008 at 5:29 PM  

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