Category Archives: Review

Phish | Hampton Roads, VA | 20-Oct-18

I’m working late on a Friday. My friend, Mike texts me that he’s going up to Hampton Roads, Virginia to see Phish during their three night run. He grabbed a ticket online and was going to meet some friends and go to the show.

Now it does not take long for me to figure out the scenario. I called my wife and asked if she was cool with me heading up for the show and she was. I found a ticket and hotel room and we we’re on our way.

I had wanted to see a show at Hampton for years. The first time was back in 86 when a friend was driving up to see Metallica and Ozzy, he even had an extra ticket. It was a Sunday show and I had classes the next day and I said no. He was not staying the night and it’s about a 6 hour drive round trip.

Well a few months later Cliff Burton, the bass player for Metallica died during their European tour and I was bummed I missed going to that show.

Now a chance to see Phish at Hampton, The Mothership. I have listened to Hampton Comes Alive many times and expected to see a good show.

Mike picked me up and we headed up to Hampton. Listening to Friday nights show on the way we were picking out songs we wanted to hear. We had just seen them a few months before in Raleigh and it was a good show.

We got to Hampton, checked in to the hotel and went to meet his friends. The hotel had a shuttle but after waiting about 20 minutes we ended up walking over to the venue. It was only about a mile and the sun was starting to go down.

Upon seeing the Coliseum it’s impressive. I immediately snapped some pictures and we headed to Shakedown Street. After a quick tour of shirts, stickers and about everything else for sale we found his friends, Colleen and Andrew.

Shakedown Street was packed
Shakedown Street was packed

They went the night before and gave us the details of the venue and the show. I mentioned that I wanted to see if I could get a poster as I saw it on Twitter on the way up. They mentioned that they sold out of posters early the night before, however the guy in the car next to us had purchased one and showed it to me. It was awesome and part of me knew that I would not get in early enough to buy one.

We left our stuff in their car and headed in. Once we got inside I went to merch stand and sure enough they were sold out of posters. We grabbed a beer and picked out a nice spot on the floor on Trey’s side. I looked around the coliseum and was amazed at the size. It reminded me of Dorton Arena in Raleigh in terms of size and capacity. For a show like this the bleachers were tucked away and lots of room to dance on the floor.

Our spot on the floor

We got some beers. Met some other Phans, Larry from LA was awesome and he bought me a beer too. Then the lights went down and Phish came onstage. They opened with Llama but a funky version that they had only played a few times before. I knew the evening was off to a good start.

The first set had some great songs including Runaway Jim, a blistering 46 Days and closed out with a 17+ minute version of Fluffhead.

Set one was over and time for intermission. Hampton Roads has a nice patio section on the second level that we grabbed some fresh and cooler air. It was hot down on the floor.

Andrew, Colleen, Mike and I on the floor

We found our spot again down in front of Trey and got ready for Set 2. The opened with First Turbe before tearing into a strong Tweezer. Almost 19 minutes long and it was amazing. Phish took the song to several places, some spacey, some rocking and all very seamlessly.

Dirt was next before going into Backwards Down the Number Line and No Man in No Man’s Land. Both of these songs were a nice upbeat change to Dirt and got everyone dancing.

Cavern was next and this was one of the songs I mentioned during our ride up that I would like to hear. And it was great.

The set closed out with Suzy Greenberg after Gotta Jibboo that had a nice jam.

Now time for the encore. What would they come out with. In Raleigh they had played The Beatles, A Day in the Life. Since they had not played any covers I thought we may see a cover or maybe two?

They came out and did Shine a Light. It’ a beautiful song and had everyone in a very loving mood at the end of the show.  I was surprised to discover it’s a Rolling Stones song from Exile on Main Street.

We headed out of the venue and made our way to the car. Since Mike and I had not eaten we hunted out a Waffle House that wasn’t too near the venue for fear of it being packed. We found one and grubbed out, discussing the songs and the different parts of the show.

What was a great experience was being able to be on the floor and see the band a little closer. Nowadays if you want to sit up front it costs a lot. Also it was interesting to see their light show from the floor versus a hill or the upper decks. I was reading some reviews later and realized that I should have gone and sat behind the band for a few songs to see the lights from their perspective.

We drove back the next day listening to the show again. Mike and I both agreed that it was a good show but not a really great show. Especially compared to the night before. Mike stated the saying “Never miss a Sunday show” as we drove south to Carolina. Of course neither of us could swing it so we ended up listening to the show afterwards. All in all Friday was probably the best show, but Saturday and Sunday weren’t bad. Saturday’s show felt a bit experimental.

But that’s why you go to see live bands, especially those that change the setlist everynight like Phish. You never know what you’re going to get and the anticipation, excitement, and all the emotions create a unique and exciting experience.

One note, the ticket stub I had for this show was a digital one from TicketMaster that I bought on the secondary market. It had nothing but a QR code and their logo with show info. The ticket stub I posted here I found on Reddit as the artwork is so cool that I wanted to share it. And that’s the problem with digital tickets, they are souless!

Phish Setlist Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA, USA, Fall Tour 2018

Phish.net reviews

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!

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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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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AC/DC | Raleigh, NC | 18-Oct-88

This was a concert I was  excited to see and it lived up to my expectations. I had been an AC/DC fan since I middle school thanks in large part to a cool neighbor that played guitar and was huge Angus Young fan. A few months later I had moved overseas and Back in Black came out and I was hooked on their heavy rocking blues sound for life.

My previous opportunity to see AC/DC was during the Flick of the Switch tour in Birmingham, AL. However they cancelled the date and I was bummed. This time they were coming to play on my college campus, NC State! And they were playing in Reynolds Coliseum which had not hosted rock concerts for several years. Rumors were that it stemmed from Van Halen’s last concert there during the 1984 tour. It didn’t matter to me, AC/DC was playing a few miles from my house on the Blow Up Your Video tour!

Blow Up Your Video
Blow Up Your Video (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Opening Band: Cinderella

Ticket Price: $18.50

Since the show was walking distance from my house we headed over a bit early to see the opening band, Cinderella. When I first saw Cinderella on MTV I was a bit turned off with their glam metal look. That and the fact that they were heavily being tied to Bon Jovi made me want to dislike them more. But after hearing their set I was impressed. They rocked their set and showed they were more than a glam metal band on heavy MTV rotation. Their lead singer had a strong voice, similar to Brian Johnson of AC/DC.

After Cinderella’s set, it was time for AC/DC. Now everything you’ve heard about their shows is true in the sense that they get the crowd pumped and engaged. Before you see them onstage they tease you with their opening number. This tour is was Heatseeker and their entrance was epic. As the build up continued the large missile rose from center stage, breaking through the floor. The missile door then blows off and there stands Angus Young in his school boy uniform, not missing a beat.

Angus jumped out from the platform, and started running across the stage playing his ass off as he typically does. They go into Shoot to Thrill and I’m in pure heaven. Shoot to Thrill is my favorite song on what is definitely a metal bible, Back in Black.

I knew this was going to be one of those shows where I would be loving the setlist. Mostly because AC/DC was only playing two songs off the new album and the rest were their classic hits. For the first half of the show I ventured into the mosh pit that was the entire basketball court as the stage was set up at the South end of the coliseum.

AC/DC Setlist Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, NC, USA 1988, Blow Up Your Video

 

And the hits kept coming, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Back in Black where the next two songs. I’ve always felt that Brian Johnston does a great job singing Bon Scott’s songs even though they have different vocal styles. Next was Who Made Who from the Maximum Overdrive soundtrack. I always felt this was one of their more pop songs but it was special to me since the movie was shot in Wilmington, NC just a few years before. Stephen King had AC/DC do the soundtrack as they were his favorite band.

One of the surprises was Jailbreak. I did not see this one coming but was excited as I love this song with it’s solid beat and simple riff. The crowd is singing along with the chorus and the Reynolds Coliseum is going off! Then it’s Hells Bells, which of course opens with the familiar single large church bell with it’s simple rings spaced a few seconds apart. Then you hear Angus start playing that slow intro. The song builds up as each band member joins in and then you have AC/DC at full power.

They played their only other new track, That’s the Way I wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll off Blow Up Your Video. One of their less memorable songs from this period and album. After that it was back to the classics with The Jack and You Shook Me All Night Long, their other big hit. During The Jack, Angus strips his school boy outfit some while teasing the crowd to have him “moon” the audience. He roams all points of the stage and commands the audience to get louder. Finally he flashes AC/DC boxers to the crowd and the place erupts!

At this point I’ve started my air guitar and head banging from the bleacher seats at the end of the floor. Close enough to see everything but just out of the pit. If you have ever been to Reynolds you know that the seats in the bleachers are joined in sets of 3-4 seats welded together. This allowed you to bang them against the aluminum riser beneath you and get a booming sound, which we did for T.N.T. and a few other songs.

The set closed out with You three old-school tracks,High Voltage, Whole Lotta Rosie and Let There be Rock.  Whole Lotta Rosie is one of those songs that grabs and you and takes you for a ride. AC/DC does that during their show, it’s a roller coaster of blues, metal, rock and loudness that kicks ass. Followed up with monster guitar solo during Let There Be Rock and it was an incredible show so far.

By the end of the set I was satisfied but knew that they always ended with For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) and this show would be no different. The encore started with Highway to Hell. Much like the opening of the show this is great song to take the stage with the killer opening riffs that everyone knows. Then came T.N.T. and I was in overdrive. The crowd was chanting “Oi, Oi, Oi” along with the band. I always loved this song and it is one of my favorite AC/DC songs. Finally the closer, For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) was upon us. You could see the cannons above the light truss and were so prepared for them to fire. In typical AC/DC fashion this song builds off Angus’s lead riff and evolves into a song that you can go to war with. At this point I was glad that I was away from the stage. When the cannons fired at the end of the song it was loud! I think my ears rang a slight bit for the next few days, but it was totally worth it.

To date this is the only time I’ve seen AC/DC live. I’ve had a few chances to see them on past tours but have been a bit reluctant. Brian Johnson’s voice is not what it used to be and rightfully so. I’m really glad I saw them at this time when they were in their prime. They sounded great and put on the rocking good show I expected of them. AC/DC, Reynolds Coliseum, NC State Campus, Oct 18, 1988

Grateful Dead | Landover, MD | 8-Mar-92

This was my first Dead show. I would see the band several times over the next few years but this was the first one. I don’t consider myself a Deadhead by any means. But this show was interesting in that it was an opportunity to see a legendary band that I knew very little about. And you never forget your first Grateful Dead show.

The opportunity came because one of my best friends, Dan Connolly @dconnolly17 had an extra ticket. Now if you’ve been to a Dead show or similar artists you will notice those seeking “extras”. Dan knew that I had not been nor really had a big desire to see the Dead but he convinced me to go.

I arrived at Dan’s place in Vienna and we travelled to the show with 2 of his college buddies, Eddie from Syracuse and “Crazy Sammy” from JMU. The trip from Vienna to Landover Maryland is not a pretty one to say the least and after about 45 minutes we found ourselves in the Capital Centre parking lot.

It was a beautiful Spring afternoon. Warm and sunny and the vibe was relaxed. This was the first night of 2 shows. Deadheads were conversing about the previous shows at Hampton Coliseum and what songs were played. I was oblivious to the whole culture. This experience was very different than hanging out at a heavy metal or new wave shows that I had seen in the past. Yes people were partying at both events but this scene was totally different.

The Capital Centre

The Capital Centre parking lot was a real dump. Not much of it was paved and it was out in the middle of nowhere. The building always reminded me of Dorton Arena with it hyperbole shape, the center of the the roof being the lowest point. At that time it was where the major acts played Washington, DC market. This would also be the first of several Dead shows in DC and the Cap Centre. The venue is no longer as it was demolished in 2002 to make way for a mall.

We tailgated a bit and strolled some of the parking lot. I’ve never seen so much crap for sale before a show. I have to admit at first it just seemed a bit odd and out of place. After I had been to a few shows it becomes part of the scene that you get used to and participate in. But at this point I was fine just observing. Not sure what to expect.

I had a great seat, stage right, lower level, about 12 rows up. High enough to see over the floor seats. And that’s a good thing when seeing the Dead. The floor can be a huge party. People are dancing, beach balls pop up, maybe a ballon or two! I was sitting with a friend of another co-worker who was about 8 years older than me and had seen the Dead since the 70s.

One of the coolest things about the Dead is that they allowed tapers to “bootleg” the show. So near the soundboard I spotted the microphone stands and knew that was the tapers section, something I had never seen at a rock concert before. Thanks to the community of tapers you can stream this show and many others on archive.org. Here’s the link: https://archive.org/details/gd92-03-08.sbd.fink.14083.sbeok.shnf. This is the first show I’ve had the chance to review and have a recording to revisit the music.

The band came out and I have to admit it was cool to actually see Jerry Garcia live in person, the beard, the glasses, the grey hair and his guitar. He had such an iconic look to him. The rest of the band looked similar to how they looked since the late 80s. Bob Weir wearing jeans and a Polo shirt, Phil in kackis and tie die shirt, the two drummers, Micky Hart and Bill Kreutzmann behind them on the two drum kits. And to the right of Jerry was Vince Welnick who had previously played with The Tubes, on keyboards.

The band opened a mellow version of Let the Good Times Roll, an old Sam Cooke song. They then went into Touch of Grey, which I was familiar with. The song was their biggest US hit and I remember when they released that album. I had read the Rolling Stone covers story about their rebirth in 87 after Jerry’s diabetic coma and other band drama.

dead-rolling-stone

After Touch of Grey I was pumped a bit. And then they played New Minglewood Blues keeping the crowd dancing just along with the beat. The band sounded good and it was refreshing to go to a show where the PA was not turned up too loud. The Dead was into the quality of the music experience for their fans. I would learn during future shows that the sounds was a big part of the experience.

I’m also not a huge Dylan fan and did not recognize Desolation Row was a Dylan cover. This was one of three Dylan songs I wold hear that evening. The other two being All Along the Watchtower and The Mighty Quinn. Both of these songs I was more familiar with, especially Watchtower since it was covered by Jimi Hendrix.

The first set closed out with Big Railroad Blues and The Music Never Stopped. On both of these songs the Dead was hittin the note, crowd was dancing, I found myself getting into the groove with their sound!

After intermission the band began their second set. I have to admit that this was probably the first rock show I had been to that had an intermission and it’s nice. Gives the fan and the band a chance to come up for air.

Grateful Dead Setlist Capital Centre, Landover, MD, USA, Winter Tour 1992

For the majority of the show it was a bit weird as I was not familiar with the songs. The second set had a few songs that I’m not a fan of like Wave to the Wind, a Phil Lesh song. So Many Roads, a newer mellow, Jerry song is OK but not one of his best. I found myself enjoying more of the upbeat songs in their repertoire and enjoyed the newly added Long Way to Go Home.

The second set also brings Drums and Space, I’ve always wanted to see the experimental aspect of the Grateful Dead’s performance. But I found it to be a bit long and tedious. After a nice Not Fade Away complete with audience hand clapping, The Dead performed the third Dylan cover, The Mighty Quinn. It was a nice end to the show.

After the show we hung out in the parking lot and had some beers. The sound of Nitrous tanks going off in the distance mixed in with the Capital Centre’s parking lot PA announcing that the show was over and please leave, made for interesting conversation. I watched Dan and Eddie review the setlist that Eddie scrolled during the show and discuss the different aspects of each song and the bands performance.

All in all it was an interesting show. Not the best Dead show that I would see but interesting enough that I wanted to see another show and compare. It was not life changing experience and I still did not understand why everyone was so into Jerry Garcia. But the vibe was different and special and inviting to go to the next show to see what would happen next. I want to thank my Irish Brother From Another Mother (IBFAM) Dan for getting me a ticket and asking me to go!

Earlier in the evening Crazy Sammy commented on the baseball cap I was wearing. It was a Screaming Trees black cap. His comment was, “This ain’t no Screaming Trees show you’re going to!” You’re right Sammy,wherever you may be, it was more than that!

Grateful Dead, Winter Tour 92, Capital Centre Landover MD

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The Police| Rio de Janeiro | 16-Feb-82

This was my first rock concert! To say the least it was totally awesome and radical! I was a freshman in high school living overseas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  It was an urban paradise with beaches, bikinis, futbol, samba and in February of 1982 The Police played 2 shows during their Ghost in the Machine tour at Maracanãzinho.

To say I was stoked is an understatement. I was a huge fan of The Police and had been listening to them heavily since the release of their third album, Zenyatta Mondatta.  When word broke that Sting,  Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland were coming to Rio for 2 shows, a fever pitch hit our community.

We had been living in Rio for a little over a year and there had been very few concerts.  Rio and Brazil had a bad reputation for fake promoters, scams and other corruption that kept major artists away.  Rock in Rio was still a few years off. So when my brother and I scored tickets we were amped!

The venue was Maracanãzinho which means little Maracanã, the world’s largest soccer stadium that sits next door.  Several of my classmates had scored front row seats and we ended up sneaking from our mezzanine level seats to the floor seating area before the show started.  We ended up about 5 rows from the stage with a great view. One of my classmates was fortunate enough to get several front row seats as his father worked for CBS records and had connections. Nonetheless I remember my neighbor, Gabriel and I were glad to be able to get closer to the stage and band!

I don’t remember there being an opening band.  I was very excited and I was enjoying the energy and vibe of the concert.  Once the house lights went down and The Police took the stage part of me realized that this was a special feeling that I may never feel the same way again.  This was and would always be my first concert!

Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland seemed pumped as they hit the stage. Sting was playing one of those 80s minimalist bass guitars. I remember Stewart wearing the 80s athletic “shorts” of the day with tube socks sneakers and cutoff sleeves t-shirt. I was impressed by how high Stewart jumped off the drum riser after the sets. The entire band seemed a bit pumped due to the lively Brazilian crowd and vibe. You don’t play Rio unless you’re ready to impress a town that just wrapped up Carnaval a few weeks before!

There was a horn section playing with the band. Several of the songs from Ghost In the Machine had horn arrangements like Hungry for You. It was a interesting mix between the power trio and the 4 man horn section. Several reviews of the tour DVD are critical of the horns and I have to admit that recording equipment in the 1982 was still poor compared to what would be introduced in the next few years with early digital mics.

This was a very upbeat opening set with the first several songs. When The Police hit The Bed’s Too Big Without You, they really hit that reggae grove and slowed it down a bit. That song has stuck with me over 30+ years! The video footage is from shows in Chile a the week before they came to Brazil.

From there they ripped into De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, a silly song but a big hit on the previous album. Walking on the Moon also sounded excellent as it mellowed out the vibe a bit. Shadows in The Rain is a great tune to follow that up with and The Police did just that.

The set ended with Roxanne from their first album Outlandos d’Amour. I’m not a huge fan of Roxanne as it’s been overplayed on radio so much.

After a short 10 minute break The Police came back out for a 2 song encore. Man I was stoked because I had heard of encores but this was my first time witnessing one in person! Stewart Copeland again came out jumping up and down like a madman! I think Sting spoke some Portuguese he probably learned while they were there. All I can remember is that I felt awesome after seeing such a great performance and wish I had tickets to see them the next night of the 2 night stand.

I went home and taped this ticket stub to my desk, hence the aged old tape marks! I would see The Police again on the Synchronicity Tour a few years later before they broke up. No doubt The Police were at their creative peak during this tour. But with the success came more division in the band especially between Stewart and Sting that would only allow them to produce one more album and final tour before their Reunion tour.
The Police | Rio de Janeiro, Brasil | 16-feb-82

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