Category Archives: Live Music

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

Cry of Love | Raleigh, NC | 13-Aug-94

This post is a bit bittersweet. A week ago Kelly Holland, former lead singer of Cry of Love passed away. The Raleigh music community lost a talented musician to say the least.  The N&O music critic David Menconi reposted a great article about the Cry of Love during their heydey.

To say Cry of Love was a great band is an injustice. These were four experienced and talented individuals that came together at a time when the Raleigh music scene was growing with great local bands. To me they were the best of all of them. They had a great rock sound and played tight. Their sound was just right, no BS, just straight up rock and roll.

Cry of Love had a driving sound that was centered on Robbie Kearns on bass and Jason Patterson on drums. Audley Freed on guitar is one of the best live players today. And Kelly brought all that sound together with a voice that did not quit. Together they were kind of like a southern-fried Led Zeppelin, with a collection of songs that had terrific range and emotion.

Cry of Love, Brother

Their debut album, Brother is one of my favorite of all times and I can remember listening to Bad Thing for the first time and thinking it was Bad Company. It was hard but bluesy just like the great 70s rock bands like Foghat and Grand Funk, but also with a southern rock tinge a la Lynyrd Skynyrd.

This show was the second time I saw the band. The first was in Washington, DC at The Bayou on a weeknight to a small crowd. I dragged several friends there telling them they had to see this band! But it was a cold, winter night so we were there with about 150 people.

This show was the opposite with the show selling out The Ritz to a capacity 2,500 person crowd.  It was a hot August night and the venue was smoky and steamy due to the poor A/C at The Ritz. It didn’t matter. Cry of Love had just finished a few grueling year of touring to support Brother.

The band had been opening for ZZ Top, Robert Plant, and Aerosmith over the past year.  Their dedication payed off in that they had 3 singles that cracked the Billboard Rock charts with Bad Thing hitting number 1.

So coming home to Raleigh to play for your hometown crowd, friends, family, etc. created a special feeling to the show.  I was excited to see them play in Raleigh as I had moved back to town.  Raleigh was still a small community then and you knew most of locals, so it was a familiar group of people that evening.

I had to piece this setlist together based on songs I saw played on various bootleg CD covers found searching for artifacts. I even asked Jason Patterson if he remembered their old setlists but he could not recall. Cry of Love had a few songs like Broken Toy that were written after the album was released and did a few covers.

Cry of Love Setlist Ritz Theater, Raleigh, NC, USA 1994

Cry of Love  opened with Gotta Love Me that has Audley’s signature bluesy guitar sound that transitions into heavy rock. Kelly begins with his classic “Baby, baby, baby, bay-bee” yell.  Followed by Too Cold in the Winter, a song that builds as it progresses. It begins with a simple beat and southern picking and strumming by Audley. The chorus allows the the sound to build and by the end of the song Kelly is wailing in perfect harmony with the band.

Carnival follows along with a new song, Broken Toy. Carnival is another song that starts a bit slow and builds to a strong chorus. Kelly’s vocals on this song really grab you. Broken Toy showcases Audley’s guitar intro and his amazing guitar playing. I can see why they added this song to the setlist. Drive it Home has some wicked guitar sound to it.

Bad Thing begins with the slow bluesy intro that’s not on the album. For about a minute and half they tease the audience thinking it’s a slow number and then they stop and go right into Bad Thing  missing a beat and they sound great. Next you hear that lick that tells you Highway Jones is coming up. This was the leadoff song on the album and always reminds me of the sound Stevie Ray Vaughn had on guitar. Peace Pipe and Hand Me Down close out the set. Peace Pipe has “hit song” written all over it. I love how this song builds into a tour de force of sound with Kelly belting out amazing yells to close out the song.

I always hoped that one day the guys would get together for a reunion show.  With Kelly’s passing that’s not going to happen. But we can always remember the great times Cry of Love created with their live music. I for one say thanks guys for the great times!

Cry of Love @ The Ritz, Raleigh NC Aug 13, 1994

Bad Company | Raleigh, NC | 23-Jun-09

I’ve never been a huge reunion tour patron. The shows can be a huge disappointment if you favorite band comes out and sounds like a poor reflection of their former selves. Or if half the band is replacements and only the drummer is original, then I’m not interested. Such was not the case when Bad Company did a handful of dates in 2009.

I’ve been a fan of this band since I was a kid. Their songs were on the radio and I remember the original album cover, black with white type. Bad Company was an early “supergroup” in that Paul Rodgers formed a new band after Free with Mick Ralphs from Mott the Hoople, Boz Burrell from King Crimson. They hired former Beatles manager and now Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant and were the first band signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swang Song label. So that made them ever cooler when looking at the artwork. They had the same awesome label logo as Zeppelin!

Bad Company

I had never had a chance to see the original Bad Company and thought I never would. After Rodgers left the group in the early 89s and the band reforming with new singers and a more MTV sound, I figured this was another band ruined by the 80s. Paul Rodgers had only once performed with the band during a 30-date US tour in 1999. Minus Burrell who passed away in 2006, this lineup of the original surviving members for a short 11-stop tour was on my bucket list.

Opening Band: The Doobie Brothers

Ticket Price: $41
Purchase Price: : $10

For this show I tried using Craigslist for the first time to buy tickets. I knew the show would not be a sellout, but I wanted to take my wife and kids so I was looking to save on 4 tickets with face value of $41.00 or $120+. I was able to find 2 sets of tickets for $20 each for a total of $40, just $1 shy of the face value!

I packed up the car with a cooler, some food and a few blankets to sit on. We had lawn seats at Walnut Creek Pavillion which I have to admit I prefer from a sound standpoint. I’ve sat in the covered Pavillion seating area and depending on the band it can be too loud or distorted.  Plus the lawn give space to spread out, this kids can dance, run around, or lie down and crash if they want.

Not only that but The Doobie Brothers were the opening band and I had not seen them before either. I told the kids they were seeing two multi-platinum selling artist for approx $5 each but they were not impressed. This Doobie Bros lineup consisted of 3 original members with the recent return of Tom Johnston on and vocals, along with perennial Brother Patrick Simmons and Michael Hossack on drums.

Photo credit: Kristin Collosso, Lights
Photo credit: Kristin Collosso

This was not going to be a Michael McDonald show with Tom Johnston back in the lineup. Instead it was a great selection of their more rocking songs with the harmonies and backing vocals that made them famous before Michael McDonald joined the band.  Opening Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) and Jesus is Just Alright got me up and dancing immediately.

Tom Johnston sounded great and Patrick Simmons is a rock iron man that ranks up there with the greats on both guitar and vocals. Takin it To the Streets, Black Water and Long Train Runnin’ were spot on to close out the set. The Doobie Bros came out for a nice 3 song encore with China Grove, Without You and Listen to the Music.

Bad Company Setlist Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion, Raleigh, NC, USA 2009

Bad Company opened with Can’t Get Enough, the first song from their first album and it sounded great.  The audience was singing along with the band in no time. Then they went into the second song from Bad Company album, Rock Steady, a slow building, driving song. The hits kept coming as there was no new album to promote or new songs to play.

For Seagull, Paul Rodgers had the audience singing along with them.  Other tracks from the debut album during the set were Feel Like Makin’ Love, Shooting Star and Movin’ On. Each song sounded as good as it did when I first listened to them 30+ years ago. Rodgers voice is still strong and he really knows how to engage the audience.

Bad Company, photo by Kristen Collosso
Photo credit: Kristin Collosso

The set finished and I knew that Bad Company had to be the encore. The single spot centered on the stage as the grand piano rolled out and Rodgers took his seat.  The slow, ominous build up of the song with Rogers vocals are classic rock at its finest.  Matched up with the heavy guitar sound and you have…Bad Company!

To me Paul Rodgers is enjoying smart choices he made not to be a lush like many of his peers. He looks great for his age and his voice is as strong as it ever was. The only song I would have love to have heard was Good Loving Gone Bad because it rocks and Paul Rodgers has the great line, “And baby I’m a bad man!”

Bad Company, Raleigh, NC | June 3, 2009

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 Here’s the link: 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 khakis 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. And as a bonus Bruce Hornsby sat in the entire show playing piano and accordion.

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.


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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Queens of the Stone Age | Raleigh NC | 30-Jan-14

So this is the first review I’ve done for a recent show and I was really excited. I’m a huge Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) fan and had not seen them since the Songs for the Deaf tour. The one consistent member of QOTSA is front man, lead guitarist and singer, Josh Homme.  The other musicians have changed often during the early years.  At the same time the band has worked with a impressive list of session musicians including Elton John, Dave Grohl and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.

Queens of the Stone Age | Like Clockwork

I have to thank my good friend and former co-worker Rob for letting me know this show was coming. He had never seen them so we grab some tickets and made our way downtown.  We grabbed some dinner and made our way to Memorial Auditorium on a very cold Winter evening. The tour is in support of the latest QOTSA album, …Like Clockwork.

Once we got into the lobby I checked out the swag table to see if they had any prints for the show.  Sure enough they did and it was a very cool cobra in a bottle design on a black background. Reminded me of the old 70s black light rock posters. I knew that I wanted it so I skipped the opening band so that I could shuttle the poster back to my car and not have to hold onto it all night. The opening artist was Chelsea Wolfe whom I had not heard before. She was a bit to goth for me so I have no regret missing her set.

Queens of the Stone Age, Raleigh Show Poster, Jan 2014
Kick ass poster by Brad Klausen

I had a few minutes to say hello to some old friends before QOTSA took the stage.  Once the lights went down I was back and my seat and ready. They opened with You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire. Great opening track that got the crowd pumped and set the tone for the show. They followed up with the next song from that album, No One Knows. I like when bands do this, open up a few tracks that are not from current album. It’s a great way to get the crowd amped up for the rest of the show.

Next was My God Is The Sun from …Like Clockwork. I really like the groove that this song starts out with. This was the song they played at The Grammys when they were cut off and Trent Reznor sounded off. Then into Burn the Witch which has a similar groove to it. Smooth Sailing off the new album was next, again with a very good groove and some funky riffs. After Monsters in The Parasol (a great rocking song from Rated R) QOTSA went into I Sat By The Ocean. This song has a great sound with heavy bass and driving beat. It’s not typical of their sound in that it’s not heavy and fast.

Queens of the Stone Age Setlist Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh, NC, USA 2014, ...Like Clockwork

Like Clockwork, the title track on current album was next. This is a slow song which is typically how they close out their albums. Two songs later was If I Had A Tail. I have really grown to like this song as it has some fun lyrics and slow building sound. The set closed out with Better Living Through Chemistry and Go With the Flow. Better Living is a fantastic piece that builds off the guitar and drums and builds up with some scary vocals. The pause in the middle of the song allows it to build back up with a driving guitar riff. The video clip above captures some of that part of the song. Go With The Flow was the single released from Songs of The Deaf that is about the closest they get to a pop song.

The first set ended and the band took a short break before coming out for the encore. Josh came out alone to play The Vampyre of Time and Money from the new album. This was a different Josh than I’ve seen before, sitting at a piano and pouring his heart into the song. He has really progressed as a songwriter and performer and it showed.

Feel Good Hit of the Summer and A Song for the Dead closed out the show. Feel Good is one of those songs that just thumps with crazy lyrics. Song for the Dead is one of their heavier songs and one of my favorites from Songs for the Deaf. The band totally nailed it.

This was an excellent concert. The band played their asses off. The sound and lights were great. The crowd had energy and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. If you ever get a chance to see QOTSA go see them. You won’t regret it.

Queens of the Stone Age Like Clockwork Tour

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 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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