All posts by Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald fell in love with music when he heard his brothers' Beatles records for the first time. Since then he has enjoyed seeing live music and began capturing concerts reviews on Favorite Concert in 2014. Connect with Brian McDonald on Google+.

Black Sabbath | Las Vegas, NV | 17-Sept-16

The journey to see Black Sabbath, The End started when I was planning a trade show for work. One of my co-workers, a recent college grad was attending as well and asked it I wanted to head out a day early as she had never been to Las Vegas. Well you don’t have to ask me twice to go to Vegas a day early so I immediately searched for entertainment for the Saturday we were arriving.

Within about five minutes of searching Vegas sites, I saw that Black Sabbath would be playing Las Vegas on their The End tour. Holy crap I thought to myself, the original lineup (minus Bill Ward) but a chance to see Ozzy with Tony and Geezer was an instant, HELLZ YEAHZ! I asked my co-worker if she wanted to attend but did not expect her to. That’s fine I was willing to go by myself as this would be Sabbath’s last tour.

I had seen Sabbath once before with Ronnie James Dio singing in the early 90s and it was a great show. I had also seen Ozzy with his band in the 80s and it was decent. Ozzy always had a great backup band but as we now know he was battling alcoholism and does not even remember the performances. Side note: go watch God Bless Ozzy Osbourne.

So I booked my early ticket and reserved an AirBNB room in Las Vegas for Saturday. Just a few days before I left I was talking to my best friend, Joe Costanzo who tells me he’s in Vegas and will be there through the weekend. I asked him, “What are you doing Saturday night?” He was free and as excited as I was that Black Sabbath was playing. And to boot he was staying in the MGM Grand where the concert was being held.

I headed out to Vegas and spent the earlier part of the day showing my co-worker the Vegas Strip. I called Joe and told him that I would be at the MGM Grand around 6 pm and started looking for tickets on StubHub. We grabbed a few drinks, scored $45 tickets and ate dinner before heading to the show.

We missed the opening band but that’s OK. I can’t even remember who it was! We got to our seats as the second song, Fairies Wear Boots was playing. And it sounded great!

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Ozzy, front and center!

After Forver and Into the Void followed. Ozzy was jumping around the stage, bowing to the audience and constantly telling everyone to “get those fucking hands in the air!” Then came Snowlbind from Vol. 4 and War Pigs which was amazing! War Pigs is one of those songs that has a full range of emotions in it.

WASP into Behind the Wall of Sleep lead to N.I.B. and then Hand of Doom. I really love Hand of Doom since it’s similar to War Pigs it goes from slow to fast tempo, back to slow and fast again. The lyrics are great and Ozzy sounded fantastic.

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Great light show for Black Sabbath, The End tour

Rat Salad with with Tommy Clufetos drum solo was next. Ozzy informed the audience that he was taking a quick break. I had not seen Tommy play before but he’s a madman on the drums. Reminded me of Animal from The Muppets as he swung his arms in front of his head as he pounded out the drum solo.

After the drum solo Ozzy, Tony and Geezer returned to the stage to play the classic Iron Man.

The set closed with Dirty Woman, the only track from Technical Ecstasy, and then Children of the Grave. The encore was Paranoid. and then it was over.

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I would have loved to have seen some tracks from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Sabotage but the setlist focused primarily on the first four Sabbath albums.  With a catalog like Sabbath’s it’s hard to pick a  setlist that pleases everyone.  The setlist was driven by the band’s classic tunes and had great energy and mojo that kept the pace and did not disappoint.

Black Sabbath Setlist MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV, USA 2016, The End

After the show Joe and I headed to the merch tables. I saw the tour poster and knew I had to buy one as it was silver ink on black and included this leg of the tour dates.

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I was so stoked to get this poster and add it to my collection!

We then headed out the casino floor where we caught up with my co-worker and watch the mix of old metalheads mixing in with young millennials coming into the casino to hit the dance club.

This show was just awesome. Both Joe and I thought it was one of the best shows we had seen and were so happy that we were able to catch the final tour for Black Sabbath. Ozzy sounded great and had so much stage energy. It was great to see him perform sober and he has so much love for the fans.

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Black Sabbath The End Tour ticket

Rolling Stones | Raleigh NC | 16-Sept-89

The Rolling Stones. A band that I was not heavily into at the time I went to this concert. I was a Beatles fan and The Stones were cool and all that but they weren’t the greatest rock-n-roll band as their fans claimed them to be in my eyes. That was all about to change.

Nontheless I was a fan of their music. I bought Tatoo You as a freshman in high school and really liked the entire album. Their previous album as a favorite of mine as well, Emotional Rescue. So I was stoked to finally see them.

I remember my older sister had seen them back on the 81 Still Life tour and told me what a fantastic show it was. She was probably the biggest Stones fan in our family.  My brother had a copy of Hot Rocks and we used to listen to it often. Also they were a constant on the classic rock stations of the time.

The Stones had not toured in several years due to Mick and Keith fueding in the 80s. I actually never thought they would tour again due to all the press and hype.

This was a good time for concerts in Raleigh. The Who, Pink Floyd and The Grateful Deal would all play Carter-Finely during the time I was attending NC State. Most of the big tours typically skipped Raleigh as it had no large concert venue other than Carter-Finely Stadium. You had to drive to Charlotte, Greensboro or Chapel Hill for most of the indoor arena tours.

The opening act was Living Colour who had just had major breakthrough hit with Cult of Personality. The one cool thing a bout The Stones is they always put up and coming acts on their opening bill.  I was big fan of Living Colour, as their guitarist Vernon Reid just ripped it.

Living Colour did a respectable job despite being the opening band. As usual their sound was awful as the crew did not fully push their sound through the full PA system. The stage was huge to say the least. It spanned the entire width of Carter-Finely reaching the upper deck on both sides. Living Colour occupied the center of the stage, the rough equivalent of a small music hall stage. They gave it a great effort the setlist is below.

Living Colour Setlist Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC, USA 1989, Vivid

After Living Colour finished their set it was time for The Stones. First I have to mention the stage. It was huge! I had never seen such a large stage before in my life with large video monitors on each side. In addition to it spanning the width of the field and lower deck, it rose at least 50-60 feet up!

They kicked things off with Start Me Up! Full explosions, fire and all stage effects to coincide with the opening guitar lick. Mick Jagger took the stage like no one else wearing a big green jacket with tails, prancing around like only he can. From there they went into Bitch and the full sound of the band and horns section sounded fantastic.

Minus a few tracks from Steel Wheels, the setlist covered their catalog with songs like Tubmlin Dice, Miss, You, Midnight Rambler, Gimme Shelter and Brown Sugar. Some great surprises were the Keith songs Before They Make Me Run and Happy. Two great tunes that Keith shows his singing skills. If he was not the guitarist for The Stones I always wondered what he would have been as the lead singer in a band.

There were two points in the show that I really remember. The first one was during Honky Tonk Woman. During the song giant inflatable women sprung up on both sides of the stage.

The second moment was late in the show during Gimme Shelter. The song had the great backing vocals that Mary Clayton had made famous on the original recording. There was a big staircase on the stage that appeared during the song with the backup singer descending as she belted out the classic line “Rape, Murder, it’s just a shot away!”

The Stones ended the set with Satisfaction and I think everyone attending was well satisfied with the performance. They came back out for one encore of Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Mick thanked the crowd, introduced the band and that was it.

This would be the last tour that original bassist Bill Wyman would play with The Stones and it was amazing. Although he and drummer Charlie Watt appear extremely subdued during the performance, their playing was excellent. Also Chuck Leavell, former member of The Allman Brothers Band was on piano and is still playing with The Stones!

After this show I have to say I became a much bigger Stones fan. Mick Jagger has more stage presence than anyone I had seen at that time. I remember saying how impressed I was with him after the show. Constantly moving, dancing, pointing at the crowd and engaged with all 50,000 fans without missing a beat. The Stones are one of those band you have to see live to really appreciate what they bring to the stage.

The Rolling Stones Setlist Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC, USA 1989, Steel Wheels

Quick author’s note, this post is dedicated to the biggest Rolling Stones fan I’ve ever known, Cary Rowells!

Tool | Washington, DC | 9-Feb-1994

This was the first time that I saw Tool in concert.  I had been a fan of the band since their first release, Opiate. Their second album, Undertow had been release just a few months before this show so the band was still touring smaller venues and clubs.

What I really liked about Tool was the combination of heavy metal and psychedelic rock.  It was like Metallica meets Pink Floyd but heavier.  And the artwork! Even though we had moved to CDs at this point, their album cover art was awesome.  This was a bad I really wanted to see live!

The band was playing at what is now the 9:30 Club. Back then it was an old radio station WUST that was now billed as WUST Music Hall.  At that time the 9:30 Club was booking larger shows there.

My good friend Dan and I went to the show with me. It was a cold February night. We found the music hall and parked. We knew it was going to be a large mosh pit so we left our jackets in the car and scurried to the entrance.

The inside of the music hall remind me of a small school gymnasium.  The kind with small bleachers that pull out from the wall and the basketball goals that you can raise up using a hand crank. The stage was set up at one end of the hall and it was small.  It reminded me of the lower stages at The Brewery and The Fallout Shelter where I saw many hardcore and punk shows back in college.

What’s great about the smaller clubs is that you have a more intimate experience with the performers since you can get close to them and interact more than large stadium or concert hall shows with taller stages.

There was a lot of excitement and anticipation before the band took stage. Tool was a LA band and I had heard of them early only because my friend Jimmy Shoaf was touring with West Coast bands and turned us onto the first Tool disc, Opiate.

Undertow has just come out and it was in heavy rotation in my car and CD player. It was a more refined sound than Opiate. The band’s songwriting had really improved and gone beyond the heavy, speed thrash of the first album. By the time Undertow had come out most of the people in the know had heard of them and were becoming big fans.

I love Undertow as it’s a great example of a second album where the band is more comfortable and can really hone their sound. The other interesting aspect of Tool at this time was their videos.  Their album cover art was awesome to say the least. But with the release of Undertow was also the release of their first video for Sober.  It was stop motion video of a weird little man and was different than anything I had seen before.

A few months later I learned from Jimmy that the guitarist was a designer and had done all the artwork and video graphics, which made me respect the band even more. I’m a huge fan of groups that not only create a new sound but also craft their visual performance wether it be live or rehearsed.

I wish I could remember the setlist and after researching I could only find what may be a typical setlist for this leg of the tour.  Nonetheless the band came out and performed an incredible show. Dan and I were moshing it up in the pit and slamming out to the hard driving guitars and drums.  Maynard did his incredible vocals and stage performance that really got the crowd into it.

Possible Setlist

  1. Intolerance
  2. Cold and Ugly
  3. Sober
  4. Undertow
  5. Prison Sex
  6. Bottom
  7. Opiate
  8. Flood

After the show Dan and I were a bit drenched in sweat. The music hall had gotten steamy over the past few hours of music and moshing.  At this point we were glad that we left our heavy coats in the car but knew how cold it was outside so we braced for the deep freeze and sprinted for the car. We drove back to Northern Virginia cranking up Tool and talking about what an incredible friggin show we had just seen.

Tool @ WUST Radio Music Hall, Washington DC, Feb 9, 1994

Pink Floyd | Chapel Hill, NC | 25-Oct-87

Reviewing this concert reminding me just how much I love Pink Floyd. I have not listened to them much the past few years but upon reviewing their 1987 World Tour I found myself rediscovering music that’s been a part of my fabric for a long time.

I think the first time I heard Pink Floyd was riding in the back of my brother’s car as he dropped me off at Pizitz Middle School in Birmingham, Alabama around 1978. Listening to Dark Side of the Moon (DSOTM) on 8-track I remember thinking how grown up I felt listening to it. Especially the song, Money. The sounds of the cash registers along with the music was different than anything I had heard before. I think it was also the second song I had heard profanity, the first being The Beatles saying “shit” on The White Album.

A few years later, The Wall came out and I listened to it often during high school. Many days I would listen to the album on headphones and enjoy hearing all the different sounds Pink Floyd brought into the recording. For my generation they were the one band that just about everyone knew and appreciated. Before I finished high school they had broken up and I never thought I would see them live.

A Momentary Lapse of Reason
A Momentary Lapse of Reason (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Well thank goodness David Gilmour did not feel that way. A few years later he decided that Pink Floyd was not dead even though Roger Waters had left the band and was not happy about the reunion that did not include him. So much so that Waters sued the other members of Pink Floyd to prevent the use of the name for the album and tour. Waters lost and the new album, [A Momentary Lapse of Reason was released along with the supporting tour, the first in 6 years.

For me in 1987 as a junior at college, this was an epic show that I was not going to miss. This was the first psychedelic rock concert I had ever attended by one of the creators of the genre. I almost could not believe it was true when they first announced it, but before you knew it the new album was out and they were all over MTV! I can’t remember who I went to the show with but I do remember that I had just turned 20 and bought the ticket as my birthday present

This was also the first concert I saw in the Dean E. Smith Memorial Center, better known as the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill. The venue was only a few years old at that time and was the site for most of the major tours as it had larger seating capacity. But the Dean Dome is built for basketball first so the acoustics are OK for a domed basketball stadium. The advantage of seeing a band like Pink Floyd is that they care about the sound and the fan experience. Of all the shows I have seen at the Dean Dome, Pink Floyd sounded the best.

I drove up with 2 friends that were huge Pink Floyd fans, Greg and Tim. We had been talking about this show since it was first announced several months earlier and we could not get to Chapel Hill fast enough.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond

The show started off with Shine on You Crazy Diamond, the tribute to former lead singer Syd Barrett.  The slow intro of horn sounds coupled with the echoing guitar picks eased the crowd into the evening ahead.

From the very beginning you also realized that this was probably the best light show you were going to see for some time. There was a large round screen behind the drummer as well as multiple moving lights and lasers. Forget the Pink Floyd light show at the Morehead Planetarium, this was the real deal!

The rest of the first set was devoted to the new album. I had bought the new CD and liked about half of the material. It’s more the David Gilmour side of the band which you would expect. The songwriting was decent and it had that Pink Floyd trippy sound. Learning to Fly was getting a lot of airplay as the first single.

Setlist

Pink Floyd Setlist Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC, USA 1987, A Momentary Lapse of Reason

Pink Floyd closed out the first set with what I thought were the best tracks from Momentary Lapse of Reason. Dogs of War was the closet they sounded to the Roger Waters years. The sent ended withOn the Turning Away, a mellow acoustic song that reminded me of Wish You Were Here (WYWH).

This was also the first concert I attended where there was an intermission. I remember running into a few friends from high school during the break and we were wondering what songs they would play during the second set. I soon found out as the band came out for the second set, which opened with One of These Days.

One of These Days

One of These Days is a classic Pink Floyd song and this was a really great performance since it’s an instrumental and a song where David Gilmour plays slide guitar. A great example of their experimental aspect of their music, the song builds on a repeating bass line that drives the whole song. Drums, guitar and everything else as the song builds to a giant crescendo and the striking piano keys. A longtime favorite song, I was enjoying hearing it live. The lasers were great during this song and at the end a giant inflatable pig from the Animals album appeared at the other end of the stadium.

Then came the familiar ticking and ringing of many clocks letting you know the next song was Time from DSOTM. The rotodrum intro was perfect and the video screen was showing various clocks and lasers matched the beat. When the song finally kicks in and you hear the familiar lyrics, “Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day.” It’s hard to express how awesome that sounded then and it still gives me chills when I hear it today.

Time segued into On the Run like it does on DSOTM. The large video screen had images from the DSOTM tour of various characters. This is a cool instrumental as it is very experimental with various random voices, sounds, and other elements. It ends with a harsh crashing sound from a guitar that sounds like an airplane diving and crashing.

Wish You Were Here

After the crowd applause, the familiar acoustic beginning to Wish You Were Here began. This is one of my favorite songs and I’ve always loved the simple acoustic guitar sound that runs through the song. The lyrics are some of the most true to life words I’ve ever heard in a song. Even though the song is a homage to Syd Barrett, I find it speaks to me and anyone going through life. There’s always someone we miss from time to time and this song captures both the sadness and joy in that feeling.

Next was Welcome to the Machine that opened with the animation from the 70s tour of the giant metal ball that turns into the some metalic animal. A great edgy song with some amazing synthesizer effects it sounded great. Some more from DSOTM was next with Us and Them. The saxophone sounded just like the album it was incredible. After the song ended you heard the sound of cash registers and knew that Money was coming. The crowd exploded and I was pumped. I had listened to this song as long as I could remember.

The bass plucking away with the cash registers followed by the trippy guitar has to be one of the most famous rock songs. Money is another song that has some of the best lyrics including, “Money get back
I’m all right Jack keep your hands off my stack.” As the song hits the saxophone solo you can really appreciate how big of a sound Pink Floyd creates. Granted there are 8 musicians and 4 backup singers on stage but you have to make it all work together and they did. The song closes out with a fantastic guitar solo that gets slow and bluesy for a bit before building back up.

Comfortably Numb

Wow, how can you top that? Well you go back to The Wall and pull out Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2. I remember this song being my anthem in junior high soley because of the lines, “We don’t need no education’ and “Hey teacher, leave those kids alone!” The set ended with Comfortably Numb which was the biggest hit from The Wall and one of Gilmour’s best performance of the evening.

Run Like Hell

After the set break the band came out with 2 more songs. The first one being a new song, One Slip. Then the band broke out Run Like Hell. One of my favorite songs from The Wall. From the beginning bass to the screaming voice it captures the fear of the song so well. The band finished and the crowd was on their feet showing their appreciation for a show that was totally worth the wait.

I got back to Raleigh and called my buddy Jimmy. He asked me how the show was and I told him it was incredible. In fact I said we need to go to the show the next night, which we did. That was also the first time I went to see a concert 2 nights because it was such a great show.

I still would love to see Roger Waters perform with Pink Floyd and can say that was the only negative part of my review. Without Waters you miss his incredible bass and guitar playing but he also adds that crazy element to their sound and vocals.

Pink Floyd, Dean Dome, Chapel Hill Oct 25, 1987

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Stubs Jan-Mar 2014

These are the stubs from the first 12 shows since starting this blog.

Allman Brothers Band | Raleigh, NC | 11-Aug-07

This will be the first of many Allman Brothers Band (ABB) concert reviews as I’ve seen the band many times. By looking at my stubs it’s at least 13 times. Most of the shows were at this venue, Walnut Creek Pavilion. The Allman Brothers Band held the distinction of playing the venue every year for the first 19 years. The only reason the streak stopped was due to Gregg Allman overcoming hepatitis and getting healthy enough to tour again.

I have to admit that I’ve seen other bands more times in clubs. This is the most concerts for an artist of their stature, being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for instance. I was a latecomer to seeing the Allman Brothers Band as I was not a big fan until after college and moved to DC. A big reason that I became interested was Warren Haynes. I really like Gov’t Mule when they first came out and wanted to see Warren play with ABB.

Eat A Peach

What made this show special for me was that I had been listening to Eat A Peach all week long wanting to hear some of the songs. The Brothers did not let me down as they played several  songs off this album and played them early in the set that was very nice after the extended listening all week.

The Drive-By Truckers opened up and had a great opening set. I’ve seen them a few times and need to get into their catalog more. I enjoy their sound and they sounded good.

Drive-By Truckers Setlist Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, Raleigh, NC, USA 2007

Reviewing this setlist makes me happy that I purchased the Instant Live recording of the show. Even though the Allman Brothers Band allows tapers to record the show, few tapers post the files online. It’s still an old school network among ABB tapers. Instant Live and other services allow you to typically buy the show approx 60 minutes after the show. But you can also order the show from their online store which is what I do since you. That way you can see how much you really liked the show before purchasing.

ABB opened up with Les Brers in A Minor, the beuatiful instrumental from Eat a Peach. I immediately knew this was going to be a good show. I love instrumentals and the way this song builds with its melody and weaves jazz, rock and a bit of funk. They followed with Statesboro Blues, a cover song that they’ve come to own in the modern era.

Next was Ain’t Wastin Time No More and it went from good to great! Another beautiful song Gregg Allman wrote after his brother Duane Allman passed. Well I had gotten my wish, ABB opened with 3 great songs off Eat a Peach.

The Allman Brothers Band Setlist Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, Raleigh, NC, USA 2007

The next 2 songs were newer ones released off Hittin the Note.  Then came Stand Back which I had really grown to appreciate the prior week while listening to Eat a Peach. The groovy sound it has really captures the 70s rock sound. Greg’s voice was sounding great, Warren and Derrick Trucks were switching off slide guitar leads like nobody else can and the bass and drums were keeping the uptempo beat.

Southbound was next and this was a great version. ABB had left this off the setlist the past few years after Dickey Betts left the band so it was nice to hear it again. Always like how Warren fills in the backing vocals with that baritone voice. John Neff of Drive-by Truckers sat in for the song and added some extra guitar sound and it kicked ass. The next song was a cover of The Weight by The Band. One of my all time favorite songs and If you can’t have Levon Helm singing this one, Warren does a nice job filling in.

Dreams followed and this is the point in the show where if it ended now you were satisfied. If you’ve never seen Gregg Allman perform this song live it should be on your list to see. Don’t Keep Me Wondering followed and this song has a great ending where it repeats the closing guitar refrain and jams out. The next song is another favorite, Melissa. I’ve heard this song my whole life and it always touches me how beautiful of song it is and it’s another gem from Eat A Peach.

All this set up the massive jam fest that would close out the show. The sequence starts with a Muddy Waters cover, The Same Thing>JaBuMa>Mountain Jam>Smokestack Lightning>Mountain Jam and it was one of the best sequences I’ve ever seen ABB p
lay. JJ Grey of Mofro played harmonica and vocals on Smokestack Lightning. The slow intro of Smokestack with Warrens guitar and JJ’s harmonica was bluesy as could be. It was a nice break up of Mountain Jam as well.

After a short intermission the encore was Revival, another fantastic intstrumental. I had not heard this song many times and was happy to hear it versus some of the other songs they tend to close with like Nobody Left to Run With.

I hope to catch the Allman Brothers Band this year as it’s their final year of playing. Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks will be leaving the band at the end of this year to devote themselves to Gov’t Mule and Derek Trucks band respectively.

There was a good airing of the Allman Brothers Band history on NPR last weekend as well. Here is a review of the new book, One Way Out about the history of the band.

If you get a chance to see the Allman Brothers Band this year and you’ve never seen them, take the opportunity and go. It may be their last tour and they are truly one of the greatest live bands in the history of rock.

Allman Brothers Band, Raleigh, NC Aug 11, 2007

Lollapalooza | Reston, Va | 14-Aug-92

This was my first Lollapalooza Festival since I missed the first year and was a bit bummed. For the second year Lollapalooza made up for it with a stellar lineup featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers as the headlining act and Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Ministry, Ice Cube, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Lush performing on the main stage.

The side stage was incredible as well with Cypress Hill, House of Pain,  Ice-T, Porno for Pyros, Luscious Jackson and Stone Temple Pilots.  Some of the bands setlists are recorded and I did not get to see all the bands, which happens at large festivals.

Regardless it was an amazing day with beautiful weather. The one odd aspect was that it was held out on Lake Fairfax in the Virginia countryside. The roads leading in were jammed and we only missed the opening band Lush, which I don’t regret.

Also there was no alcohol being sold since the lake was private property. Basically the stage was built in a big field somewhere near the lake. I don’t remember seeing any water that day. Luckily my friend Jimmy was touring with Pearl Jam so he hooked me up with a free ticket and pass as well as a few beers backstage.

Lallapalooza 92 Guest Pass
Lollapalooza Pass Courtesy Jim Shoaf

I had hung out with Jimmy and Pearl Jam’s drummer Dave the night before at my house in Falls Church. Dave brought over his laundry and we hung out for the evening. For them I knew it was a break from hotels and venues and we had a good time.

The next day I headed to the show with several friends and we sat in the congested traffic for about an hour. Once we parked and made our way in Pearl Jam took the stage. Chris Cornell had come out to fill in for Eddie as he was en route and most likely did not have a cell phone! Cornell was just about to fill in when Eddie was spotted making his way towards the stage. The crowd parted and let him through as he got up on stage and told everyone, “thanks for waiting!”

Pearl Jam Setlist Lake Fairfax Park, Reston, VA, USA, Lollapalooza 1992

Pearl Jam ripped into their set with Once as Eddie’s last minute appearance had pumped up the crowd. Why Go and Jeremy followed and the band was sounding great.  Chris Cornell must have been itching to perform during their set and he did so, coming out and singing Hunger Strike. Four songs into my first Lollapalooza and I’m totally amazed. Temple of the Dog only performed live a few times and rarely outside of Seattle and I just was at one of them!

The rest of Pearl Jam’s set was just as good. This was the first time I had seen the band as I missed their opening set the previous fall when they were opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After their set I caught up with Jimmy and went back stage.

Jimmy showed me the tour bus that was sweet. I had a chance to meet Mike McCready briefly. We popped in a few of the tents and trailers and I saw Eddie hanging out for a few minutes.  The backstage area was messy with mud as the entire staging had been built that week.

I searched for and found some of my friends. Jesus and Mary Chain was playing and we checkout the layout and found the side stage. The only band I remember seeing on the side stage was Ice-T and was amazed that he had played the main stage just the prior year. Looking back I wish I had gone over to the side stage more but it was hard to get information in 92 about who was playing the side stage for each date.

Soundgarden was up next and I was able to make my way to the soundboard tower to meet up with Jimmy. The view from the tower was perfect and it was not too crowded.

Soundgarden Setlist Lake Fairfax Park, Reston, VA, USA, Lollapalooza 1992

I had seen Soundgarden a few months earlier during the Badmotorfinger tour. At that time they were in constant rotation on my CD player. To me they were the Seattle equivalent to Led Zeppelin, a strong, fierce four piece band led by a singer whose voice matched the thunderous music.

Soundgarden open up with Face Pollution before going into Gun, a great heavy guitar song. Mid set they were joined by Ice-T and did Cop Killer. The last 4 songs were all off Badmotorfinger. Searching With My Good Eye Closed was especially good and one of my favorites.

I caught a bit of Ministry’s set mostly because Jimmy told me they did a cover of Black Sabbath’s Supernaut, a song they would later cover on the Black Sabbath tribute album, Nativity in Black. I had not listened to them before and found their set to be very enjoyable. Supernaut was spot-on and I moved up closer to the stage to check out the band. The singer’s mic stand was made of bones and skulls and was very cool.

I spent some time checking out the community area where Rock the Vote! and several other organizations had booths set up. This was the first festival I had really been to and it was interesting to see organizations with a cause talking to people.

The Chili Peppers had taken the stage about the time the sun set. The temperature cooled off a bit as it had been a hot August day. I had seen RHCP the previous fall during the first leg of the Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic tour and was excited to see them again. John Fruiscante had quit the band a few months earlier while they were on tour in Japan and they quickly found a new guitar player.

RHCP opened with Give it Away, their big hit from Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic. they also played some Parliament/George Clinton covers which allowed Flea to really get into the the heavy bass funk groove.  Another cover they performed was Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues which I’ve grown to appreciate over the years. The Chili Pepper’s take on this song really gives it a punk edge.

Also during their set RHCP donned chrome hard hats that were attached to propane tanks. On the top of the hard hat was a 2 inch tube that were lit and flames were coming out of the band’s heads for a few songs. I had moved up closer to the stage at this point and it was a cool effect to say the least.

One of the best parts about seeing RHCP is that they do a lot of covers. The encore was no exception and this time it was Jimi Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic.  A great song and a great end to a fantastic festival of music.

Overall Lollapalooza 92 was an incredible event. I think it was the best of all the early festivals mostly because 3 of my favorite bands were on the bill. But also it was still very new and exciting event at that time. Also the lack of alcohol made it a friendlier even as people were not getting drunk and acting like idiots.

Now Lollapalooza is a multi-day festival and tours Latin America. However it no longer is the festival that was unique for a generation. Perry Farrell’s original goal to bring different types of music together was unique then but now typical. For my generation this was our Woodstock. Festivals had died out in the US at that time and all the big tours were either pop acts or classic rock bands. Lollapalooza was the first festival that embrace emerging music that would soon dominate the airwaves.

There are still great acts at Lollapalooza but I miss the vibe that this show had.

Lollapalooza 1992 Ticket stub from Reston Virginia show

Faith No More | Raleigh NC | 1-Dec-89

Faith No More is my favorite band from my college days. They released their big breakthrough album, The Real Thing, in 1989 and I was lucky enough to catch them that year. I listened to that album probably every day since getting it during the summer and wore it out. Their fusion of metal, funk, and progressive rock was a refreshing bookend to my college music journey.

The Real Thing (Faith No More album)

This was also in the age of MTV and Faith No More became huge the following year, 1990 when their video for Epic became a big hit. Personally I was happy to see many of the bands I had been listening to in college finally getting some recognition.  Watching this now makes me realize just how weird the late 80s/early 90s were in terms of style.

However the video did not breakthrough to the general public until the Spring of 1990. So when Faith No More played The Switch in December of 1989, they were a fairly unknown band on the east coast. Which was fine with me since I was able to catch them at a small venue with a few hundred fans and enjoy the show.

The Switch was located in the “industrial” part of North Raleigh near Hodges St. If I remember correctly, Kenny, the owner of The Brewery would book shows that were too big for the Brewery at The Switch. The Switch was about 4 times larger than The Brewery but it was a rock club and a dump. Sidewinder, Nantucket, PKM and other local bands played there all the time. I never liked going to The Switch, it was nasty, smelly and full of big hair, both men and women. But they booked some great bands in the 80s and was one of the few venues to see music back then.

The opening band was Mind Over Matter, a local group with similar fusion sound. I knew most of the members and always enjoyed seeing them perform. I don’t remember seeing them play that night but I’ve been told they killed it.

I remember going to the show with several friends and seeing many others before and after the show. The setlist I pulled together based on memory and setlists from recent shows of that tour. They may have played some of the newer songs that were appearing in the setlist during this leg.

Faith No More opened with the lead song from The Real Thing, From Out of Nowhere. This is a great opening song as it has a lot of energy and gets you pumped. Falling to Pieces was a few songs after and I was stoked since this song really spoke to me. My last year of college was a bit of an emotional roller coaster and I felt the lyrics to this song encapsulated my experience.

Then came the title track, The Real Thing and FNM just went off. The build up of this song and heavy guitars really make you realize how brilliant this band was. Mike Patton’s vocals are all over the place but in total control. The other songs that were really great during this show were the instrumental, Woodpecker from Mars and Zombie Eaters. The latter song was similar to The Real Thing in how it started slow and built up.

Of course you can’t write about Faith No More without mentioning Epic. At this time the song was not getting heavy airplay. What was interesting about Epic is that it had the different sounds fused together, rap, funk, rock, metal. But that’s what Faith No More was, a fusion of their different sounds. The clip below is hilarious in that Arsenio Hall is the host with a terrible intro and the band’s wardrobe is funky and stupid at the same time.

They closed out the show with their cover of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. Their version was eventually selected for the Sabbath tribute album and kicks ass. Patton is able to cover Ozzy’s range and more and really makes this song sound like it was written for him.

What made this a favorite concert was that Faith No More’s sound was the culminations of all 5 members coming together. Mike Bordin pounding the drums combined with Jim Martin’s heavy guitar created a solid heavy metal sound. Billy Gould and Roddy Bottom on bass and keyboards respectively, sound as if you took Geddy Lee and split him into 2 musicians. Gould provides a great funk sound while Bottum gives progressive overtones with his keyboards and piano pieces.

Fronting the group with a big vocal range was Mike Patton, one of the lead singers of his time. I could go on for days about how brilliant Mike Patton is and how he continues to be a true experimental musical genius. But at this show he was still working hard and being his usual weird self. I remember him loading out the gear after the show which was odd. I think he wanted to get back to the hotel as fast as possible. Or maybe he wanted to do it. You never know with Mike Patton and that’s one of things I like about him.

After the show we hung out with Billy the bassist who had become friends with my friend Walter when COC toured out west years earlier. We took Billy to Char Grill to get some food and then hung out listening to music and talking for a few hours. Billy was a real cool dude and I was impressed with some of his musical influences he shared like Sade.

Overall this was a great show and lived up to my expectations. Faith No More played loud but is sounded good through The Switch’s PA system. The guitar was heavy and bass thick. Mike Patton sang his ass off. I would only get to see this band one more time before they broke up but I’m glad I caught this show.

If you’re looking for a good recording and viewing, Live at Brixton documents Faith No More live at then end of this tour in 1990.

Faith No More at The Switch in Raleigh, NC 1989

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Rush | Greensboro, NC | 2-Apr-11

Rush is my favorite 70s power trio and one of my favorite bands ever. They are one of those bands that people either love or hate and most of their fans tend to be guys. But I don’t care about any of that. I’ve been a Rush fan since I was a kid and first heard Farewell to Kings on my brother’s 8-track and have been a fan ever since.

My friend Victoria (@veemoe) asked me on Facebook if I was interested in going and it took me about 3 seconds to type Hellz Yeahz! Victoria had an extra ticket and saw that I was a Rush fan. She had never seen them and was interested in seeing Rush. I told her she picked an excellent tour to start with. time-machine-cover The Time Machine tour was special because Rush would be performing the Moving Pictures album in its entirety during the performance. Moving Pictures was on constant rotation during my high school and college days. The album’s lead song was the big hit Tom Sawyer and all of the songs on side 1 were big on radio and some still are.  But side 2 had the cooler, progressive songs that were not big on the radio but were just as awesome if not more. There was no way I was going to miss this show. The venue was Greensboro Coliseum which is the site of my first Rush show in 1986! The Power Windows tour was a great concert, but I mostly went to see the older stuff. In the years since I shyed away from seeing Rush as I was not a fan of the newer material. To me Rush hit its peak with Moving Pictures and it shows as time has passed.

Moving Pictures was Rush's biggest selling album.
Moving Pictures was Rush’s biggest selling album.

I had seen Rush a few years before on the Snakes and Arrows tour. But it was special seeing them at Greensboro which had changed dramatically since 86! Victoria and Kristen Collosso (@ladyroboto) had 3 tickets and we scored an extra one in the parking lot for my wife, Maura. At that point it dawned on me that I was probably the only male at this show attending with 3 ladies. Rush tends to be an all male, nerd crowd. I mixed up some drinks for the road and we were off.

The excitement of seeing Rush play several songs that I’ve never seen played live was getting me amped up. Our seats were on the aisle and since we had one extra, I floated between seats and the ailse. There was no way I could sit down for most of this show, I would be swaping between air guitar and drums all evening.

After some opening video skits with the band members in various character costumes,  Rush opened with The Spirit of Radio, a great opener as Alex Liefson’s wailing guitar is joined by Neal Peart‘s booming bass drums. Geddy Lee brings the thundering bass and vocals that never get old. For an old school Rush fan like me Spirit along with Freewill and Subdivisions were the highlights. Some of the newer material has become a bit more familiar to me.

Rush Setlist Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC, USA 2011, Time Machine Tour

First set ends and there’s a short intermission where I take advantage of some liquid refreshments. Rush comes out for the second set and Moving Pictures. The familiar opening synthesizer of Tom Sawyer evokes a huge reaction from the crowd. A great opening tune and then its Red Barchetta one of my favorite songs. It takes you for a ride and Geddy Lee’s bass and vocals are showcased on this song. I recently read that it was recorded and 1 take! YYZ is an instrumental song that is Toronto’s airport code and at this point I realize that my arms may soon fall off! Limelight completes the fantastic first side of Moving Pictures. Rush is hitting the notes like they alwasys do. One of the amazing things about this band is their dedication to their music. They know what their fans like and they deliver with precision and accuracy at each performance. The sound system is just right and the coliseum had curtained off the upper deck so there was less echo.

Now it’s time for side 2 and The Camera’s Eye. This was the first song written for Moving Pictures and clocks in as the longest as well at over 10 minutes. Next to Red Barchetta, it’s my favorite song on the album. The background noise of traffic mixed with the building synthesizers are joined by faint snare drum roll and spare guitar notes. This song is a great example of why Rush is the premier progressive rock band. The time changes and leads take the listener on a journey.

Vital Signs and Witch Hunt close out Moving Pictures. I had heard Witch Hunt before and it’s hard edge and spooky sound always sound great. This was the first time I had seen Vital Signs performed and it was a real treat.One final new song of Clockwork Angels, Caravan went into a drum solo. Coming out of the solo, Alex brought out his acoustic guitars and played Closer to the Heart. This was one of the first songs that I got hooked on Rush so it was great to hear it. Then a real treat as they closed out the set with the first 2 songs from 2112 and another new song. The encore did not let up as Rush played La Villa Straingiato and Working Man, 2 great songs. La Villa is a long instrumental that closes out my favorite Rush album, Hemispheres. While Working Man was Rush’s first big hit on their debut album, Rush, which coincidentally I just saw was being reissued for a 40th anniversary edition! I left that show totally spent. The next day I woke up with an aching neck but it was worth it! Kristen writes a concert blog as well and I was flattered that she thought my air drumming did not lead me to topple down the stairs. I told her and the other ladies that I had been practicing for over 25 years and had my moves down!

This was also the first show I had seen where a band performed one of their classic albums. I have to say it’s a fantastic concept that I hope to see more of in future tours. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Rush again but it would be hard to top this show!

Rush | Time Machine Tour |Greensboro, NC | Apr 2, 20111