Tag Archives: Review

Primus | Ft. Mill SC | 9-Aug-95

This concert review has special meaning for me since this show took place on the same day as a music milestone.  It was a hectic show to get to because it’s a 3 hour drive from Raleigh to Fort Mill, SC where the show was.  Ft. Mill is just south of Charlotte but was because of what happened earlier that day. I was busy all day at a freelance gig and tuned out of everything to complete a project. I was rapidly trying to complete the day’s tasks so I cold get down to Charlotte or Ft. Mill to be exact and see Primus with Helmet opening up!

I had scored 2 tickets and invited my friend Wes to go along with me. We are both huge Primus and Helmet fans. I had seen both bands once before and was excited to see them again. Primus was touring in support of their latest album, Tales from the Punchbowl, scoring a big hit with Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver.

Primus Tales from the Punchbowl Tour 1995

I picked up Wes and we headed down I-85 towards Charlotte and Wes told me that Jerry Garcia had passed away earlier that day.  I was shocked and a bit bummed out. I had just seen the Dead in DC a few weeks earlier. Jerry was not in top form the past year so it was sad to hear that he passed while trying to improve himself and get clean again.

This was also the third time in less than 3 years that I was going to concert on same day that another famous entertainer died. The previous one being Kurt Cobain. So this show was when I coined the phrase “deathshow” to describe this phenomenon.

Regardless of the fact that we lost Jerry, we listened to a few Dead songs and then cranked up Helmet and Primus the rest of the way to Charlotte.  If you’ve never been to Fort Mill, SC, it’s a small town just over the border from Charlotte.  Neither Wes nor I had any clue where the facility was and it seemed to take forever to find the place but we made it!

Once we got into the facility we realized that we had just missed Helmet’s opening set. Second bummer of the night. Wes was really bummed as he had not seen them. I was disappointed but we were there and ready to see Primus!

The facility was the original NBA Charlotte Hornets practice facility, which is now a church.  It’s similar to was like a high school gym with bleacher seats on one side of a full basketball court and a stage on the other. Since the show was general admission the wide stage allowed you to get up close without being mangled in the sweaty mosh pit.

Opening with To Defy, was on spot after such a hard time getting to the show! Blue-Collar Tweekers into Here Come the Bastards was great too. I’m a huge Primus fan and their second album, Sailing the Seas of Cheese is one of my favorite albums. The next few songs off Tales from the Punchbowl are great showcases for Les Claypool‘s bass playing and quirky tales. Groundhog’s Day into Pudding Time was excellent as well and just a few songs later they tear into Sailing the Seas of Cheese!

Pork Soda is a decent album but not a good song. Same goes for My Name is Mud, I’ve never been crazy about it. But the real treat was just around the corner. Primus went into Southbound Pachyderm which is my favorite song on this album. Primus had several different backdrops to match songs from the new album that changes during the show. I remember the combination of the lights with the shading of the artwork made it look really cool and almost animated.

I to remember Primus playing Jerry Was a Race Car Driver and was thinking about Jerry Garcia during the song. For some reasons the fans started throwing crap at the band during the song and someone hit Tim Alexander in the head. The band stopped and Les told whomever hit Tim needed to come up and offer a BJ as penance!

All in all a fantastic show by a great power trio at the height of their creativity. Primus would continue but this was the last tour with the original lineup for the next several years. Les Claypool would go on to form a new band every year and continue to amaze me with his talent.

This was the best Primus show I ever went to.  I’ve seen them several times and this was one of those rare times when the band was hitting the note. Tales from the Punchbowl would be their last great album with the original lineup as well.

Primus @ Hornets Practice Facility, Ft. Mill, SC 8-Aug-95

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U2 | Raleigh NC | 3-Oct-09

U2 is one of the bands that I only had a few chances to see prior to this show. The last time they played near Raleigh area was in 1985 when they played at UNC’s Kenan Stadium. There were a few times that I had a chance to see them when I lived in Washington, DC but it was the Zoo TV tour that did not get great reviews and I passed, (which was a total FAIL as Primus opened up for them).

The show sold out immediately and tickets were selling for 2-4 times the face value.  U2 had such a huge stage that the “floor” seating was the entire football field of Carter-Finely Stadium and were the cheapest tickets.  The caveat being that you had to stand the whole show.

My wife @mcdezigns and I decided to use social media to guage the value and supply of tickets.  We decided that we would scan Facebook and Craisglist for a good deal and barring any we would pay up to $100 each for the show the last few days.

Well the bet paid off in that we scored tickets off Craigslist the day before the show. In fact my wife met the seller in the parking lot while I watched my daughter cheerlead for Carolina Copperheads football just across the street at Cardinal Gibbons High School stadium.

U2 Ticket, Carter-Finely Stadium, Raleigh NC Oct 3 2009

I have to admit that this may have been the first time I used social media to get tickets! Typically I would go ahed and buy tickets early if I wanted to go to the show. That way you did not have to deal with scalpers.

With tickets in hand we were ready for the show. We were able to tailgate with some of my oldest friends and college roommates. Along the way into the show I ran into several people, some of which I had not seen since college and gave a quick hello, high five, hug and shake and made our way down to the field. Also the show was just a few days after my birthday so it was great to celebrate with friends old and new.

U2 stage at Carter-Finley Stadium
U2 stage was so big I could not fit it in the picture frame.

To say the stage was huge is an understatement! It resembled a giant tripod but with 4 legs, with a Sci-Fi look and feel. In the center was a moving video screen made up of hundres of LED flat panel screens. The screens would move and change shape during the show.  Almost like “breathing” between songs.

Muse was the opening band and we were able to catch most of their set. I like Muse and enjoyed as much of their set as I could. The problem was typical for the opening band, they sounded like crap because you don’t want the opening band to sound better than the headliner. They owned as much of the stage as they could.

U2 came out to a roaring crowd! The opened with Breathe and Get on Your Boots off the new album No Line on The Horizon.  From there they played Mysterious Ways and then ripped into Beautiful Day. I have to admit that I really love this song. It has amazing energy and I was not disappointed.

After a few more songs they transitioned into my favorite U2 song, New Year’s Day. I can still remember the feeling I had when I saw this video on MTV in high school. It has such a great sound and beat with the opening keyboard and guitar parts. The Edge did not let me down! The continued into I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  We were halfway into the first set and I have to admit I was blown away.

U2 Setlist Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC, USA 2009, 360° Tour

The set ended strong with Sunday Bloody Sunday, MLK and Walk On. All of these songs speak to me on a personal level. Sunday Bloody Sunday is one of the greatest protest songs ever. MLK represents one of the greatest men of our history while Walk On is another fantastic protest song for someone I’ve never heard of. Yet I find it hard to listen to that song and not feel a connection.

After the set break the U2 came out with One. Bono is one of handful of lead singers that has amazing stage presence as well as seems incredibly humble. I’ve grown to respect his dedication to eradicating AIDS in Africa and being a voice for poverty.

Bono also had a young boy from the audience come up during City of Blinding Lights and share the stage. No doubt that young boy had an experience of a lifetime. Bono also asked for fans to use their cell phones to support one.org. Of course the major challenge was getting online as the providers towers can’t handle the 40,000+ users all at one location.

The show ended with a second encore that began with Ultraviolet. During the song a giant antenna came out of the top of the stage with rotating lights. It was amazing and very cool. The next song was With or Without You which really had the crowd engaged singing along with Bono. The show closed with Moment of Surrender.

I have to say that this show was a favorite concert in many ways. U2 is an iconic band that understands its fans and delivers on the performance. They created an unforgettable experience through the video, lights and sounds that brought the community together for the evening.

Did you attend this show? If so what did you like about the performance? Was it one of your favorite concerts?


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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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