Monday, January 07, 2019

Are You Ready To Boogie?

Well, get down off your chair. This isn't a rock concert. It's just a post about rock concerts. As a matter of fact, it's mostly an OLD post about rock concerts (but updated since first published in 2011.)

I got to thinking about some of the best concerts I've ever attended. Then I tried compiling a list of ALL the concerts I've attended during my life. This is the result.

[Note: I've seen quite a few more musical congregations than those listed below. However, I'm only counting those seen in a "concert" setting; I'll say at least 300 seats available. Clubs, therefore, would generally not count. For instance, I saw wonderful musicians in New Orleans when I was there. They played in small clubs, though, so not on this list.]

My tastes tend toward heavy metal and hard rock, so those dominate, but you'll notice early on that they aren't all rock concerts. I decided to include everybody I've seen perform, some of whom are the type of acts you might have thought were not my cup of tea. Hey, what can I say? I'm eclectic.

When I was a teen, I - and all of my friends - were voracious concertgoers. This was, in no small part, due to most of us also being voracious drug users. Everybody, whatever other drugs we used, smoked pot regularly. And I can honestly say that my use of pot directly led to a lifelong love of music. That statement is in no way an exaggeration.

Prior to my smoking grass, I was indifferent to music. I liked it but I wasn't a fanatic. I could take it or leave it. My tastes ran to music in comedy more than anything else; Tom Lehrer, for instance, or maybe the Smothers Brothers or Allan Sherman. After getting high, I began to truly FEEL the music. I could immerse myself in it and find textures I had never before noticed. I would liken it to a colorblind person suddenly seeing colors for the first time. It was truly a mind-opening experience for me. I not only became enamored with music performance but I also became a musician who played in five different groups that were paid for performing.

[Yes, that's me with the long orange hair, on stage with a band called Live Wire circa 1981. To put my own "career" in perspective, I played perhaps four or five gigs that could have qualified for this list by the "300 or more seats" rule. The biggest was about 2000, as I recall.]

Anyway, the point of a list like that which follows is to jog your memory and perhaps get you to tell a tale or two of your own, so please do so here or at your own place. I'd love to read your lists/stories.

(The numbers in brackets indicate acts I've seen more than once. The stories following any of the names will indicate, in all likelihood, that I'm a long-winded bastard willing to spout off far too much concerning past drug usage.)

AC/DC [4]

The first time I saw these guys goes down in history as the best audience participation I was ever involved in. My good buddy, Fast Freddy Goodman, had scored us tickets for the second row. In the audience, to our right, were... ah, hell, it's a long story, but a good one. Better if you go read it HERE. You'll be rewarded with cheap thrills concerning sex, if that helps.

The last time I saw these guys was also in the company of Fast Freddy and also resulted in a story to tell (as is often the case with any time spent with Fast Freddy.) Read all about Hell's Parking Lot.

Aerosmith [3]
Alice Cooper
The Allman Brothers Band
The Beach Boys

Saw them as the opening act for Chicago, in Foxboro Stadium (the then-home of the New England Patriots.) It marked the first time I ever tried brownies made with pot.

One of the guys I went to the concert with - there were six of us, as I recall - lived in Foxboro, so we went to his place before the show, armed with a righteously-sized bag of dope and a box of Betty Crocker. We mixed the brownie batter and dumped the dope in, stirred well, and baked, both literally and figuratively. I don't believe I have ever been as stoned since and I know for sure that I had never been that stoned before.

The problem, though, was that we hadn't considered the best way to incorporate a bag of dope into some brownies. Sure, we crushed it up somewhat, but what we should have done was grind it fine before adding it to the brownie mix. About an hour after eating the things, and just as we were really peaking, we had some of the worst cramps in history. And, about midway through Chicago's set, my intestines rebelled with passion against the digestion of such stuff as seeds and twigs. Color my world brown, thank you. I was on the can that night until about 25 or 6 to 4.

Tony Bennett
Black Oak Arkansas [2]
Black Sabbath [6]

This count does NOT include separate concerts of Ozzy Osbourne listed later.

The first time I saw Black Sabbath marked the first time I ever took a drug I wasn't intending to take. While grooving to Into The Void, the guy next to me passed me a joint. Or, at least, I thought it was a joint. I thanked him and took a mighty haul on it. I then realized, by the unmistakable taste of plastic in my mouth, that it was Angel Dust. Oh, well. It wasn't as though I had never done the stuff before. I knew what I was in for, so I relaxed and enjoyed it.

[Disclaimer: Angel Dust is the only drug I've ever done that I would never in a million years recommend to anybody, even if I hated them. If I knew then what I know now, about how quickly you could die from that shit, I'd never have touched it the first time. Enough said, I hope.]

Blue Oyster Cult [2]

Quite possibly the record for furthest time between seeing an act twice - 1975 and 2009. The first time, they opened for Black Sabbath. The second time, they opened for Deep Purple.

The Boston Pops [8]
The Boston Symphony Orchestra
Well, I'm from Boston, after all.

David Bowie (Sort of - see Iggy Pop)

Harry Chapin

Lovely man. He gave a free concert at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River, with a hat passed and donations going to some charity or another. This was hardly a one-off deal for him. He was known for his charitable endeavors. Shortly after I saw this concert, he died. Such a shame.

Chicago [2]
Perry Como

Funny story. I had made plans to see Mr. Como with MY WIFE. I had made plans to see Ozzie Osbourne with Fast Freddy. These concerts were supposed to take place during the same week.

When Fred and I went to see Ozzie, we arrived at the venue only to find out that Ozzie was sick and had canceled. A couple of days later, MY WIFE and I saw Mr. Como in concert. He was about 87 at the time, and made his way to the stage with a cane and two assistants. And then he proceeded to perform a marvelous show for about two-and-a-half hours, leaving the stage afterward with the cane and the two assistants.

MY WIFE has never stopped kidding me about how Perry Como was as good as his word, despite his advanced age and infirmities, while Ozzie Osbourne probably canceled because he had a bad cold.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

First real rock concert I ever went to, thanks to my Uncle Jim. He scored the tickets for me and my friends. He had some seriously good connections in those days, so he got us into the second row at Boston Garden. Midway through the show, we lit up a pipe full of grass and were passing it back and forth. David Crosby eyed us from the stage and gave us a thumbs up. We lived on that for weeks.

Deep Purple [9]

My favorite band, so you'd think I'd have many stories to tell. The best, I suppose, was the last one wherein Fast Freddy and I (along with Steve Alimo) got to meet the band backstage.

 [That's me in the yellow hat, flanked by Purple drummer Ian Paice and Fast Freddy]

Steve Morse, the current guitarist - next to Fast Freddy in the photo - is probably the single musician I've seen more often than any other (eight times with DP, once as a member of Dixie Dregs, once with his own Steve Morse Band.)

Ronnie James Dio
The Dixie Dregs
Duke & The Drivers
Ernie & The Automatics
Maynard Ferguson [2]

The only real concerts I ever attended with My Father, outside of the Boston Pops gigs, were the two times I saw Maynard Ferguson. My Dad was a Ferguson freak. He had some 16 or 17 vinyl long-players of Maynard, so I heard him often and came to enjoy him greatly myself. I still have most of those records as well as some old 78's of him with Stan Kenton's band. The man sure could reach some dog-whistle highs on that horn of his.

Peter Frampton

Just prior to him breaking huge as a solo act, I saw him open for Aerosmith in Providence, Rhode Island. At the time, not too many people knew what in hell a talkbox for a guitar was, so we were totally freaked when he made his guitar "speak".

Gentle Giant
Grand Funk Railroad
The Grass Roots
Golden Earring

We've got a thing that's called Radar Love... 

With the possible exception of Highway Star, by Deep Purple, the best driving song ever.

Herman’s Hermits
Huun-Huur Tu & Angelite

The former were a Tuvan throat singing aggregation, the latter a Hungarian female vocal group touring with them. Amazingly good combination. If you've never heard Tuvan throat singing, you should. It may or may not be your favorite experience. Personally, I think it's a wonderfully entertaining freakish way to vocalize.

The J. Geils Band [3]
David Johansen [2]

This man just ate stages whole; swallowed them in big bites. Probably the best showman I've ever seen. If you don't recognize the name, he fronted The New York Dolls prior to his solo career and later adopted the persona of Buster Poindexter for some gigs on Saturday Night Live.

Tom Jones

Saw him in Vegas, baby. And the man has a spectacular set of pipes. If you've only heard his poppish hits, you might not know that he has one of the best blues voices ever. Well, he does. And he uses it tremendously well. Blew me away.

The Monkees

Yup. Three-quarters of them, anyway. Michael Nesmith was not part of the aggregation.

The Moody Blues
The Steve Morse Band

NOT Mott The Hoople. This was the band Overend Watts fronted after Mott The Hoople dissolved. It contained three of the original members, but not Ian Hunter.

Wayne Newton

Saw Mr. Newton in Las Vegas, also. Great showman, to be certain, but his voice is shot to hell.

Ozzie Osbourne [2]

He didn't eat any bats (or puppies, as MY WIFE thinks he does.)

Poco [2]

Very odd. Saw them twice, but never expected to. They were the opening act on two different bills, and a pleasant surprise both times.

Iggy Pop

Post-Stooges, with David Bowie playing keyboards (which I'm not sure half the audience even noticed, as he kept very much to the shadows and was never introduced.)

Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
The Ramones [4]
Kenny Rogers

Ended up seeing him for a very odd reason. MY WIFE and I decided we'd broaden our horizons randomly, so we asked My Mom to buy tickets for a show at The South Shore Music Circus on a specified random date. We assiduously avoided looking at the tickets or any advertisements for the place; we only knew when we were supposed to go there. It wasn't until we were there that we knew who we were seeing. It was a fine show, too. If I could remember the name of the female country singer who opened for him, she'd also be on this list. She was good. Wish I could recall her name.

Joe Satriani
The Scorpions
Ruby Starr & Grey Ghost

An amazingly underrated and forgotten singer. Strong voice, in-your-face sexuality permeating her stage presence, she should have been huge. She died young and relatively unknown considering the scope of her talents. If you've heard Black Oak Arkansas's version of Jim Dandy, she's the featured female voice. 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Livingston Taylor
Tuff Darts
Andy Williams (again, Las Vegas)
The Who [3]

Could be two times, not three; depends upon how you count. The first time I saw them, Keith Moon collapsed on his drum kit halfway into the second song. The show was canceled. Saw the return engagement, then another after that with Kenny Jones on the skins.

Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention
ZZ Top [2]

And this could be 1 and 1/2, depending upon how you count. The second time I saw them, some douchebag threw a beer bottle at the stage. The band left and didn't return.


And that's it. I'm sure I'll remember three more bands and five more stories as soon as I publish this.

Rock on.

Soon, with more better stuff.