Wednesday, September 26, 2007


While Blue Girl and Billy Pilgrim may be gaga over the Genesis tour (far be it from me to say anything about the extremely noticeable absence of Peter Gabriel), I did my own shopping today, tickets to this fall's Neil Young show. I've seen him before as part of CSN&Y, a good enough concert in its own right, but it's Neil as a soloist I've been wanting to see, and now's my chance.

I don't get to concerts very often now. The Lovely Bride's back in school, the kids are busy with their own things, and holy God, they're expensive. Buying the tickets, though, got me thinking about bands I've seen.

1. Talking Heads. Part of radio station KGON FM 92's "Catch A Rising Star" promotion, they played the Paramount, a 3,000 seat theater. Admission was 92 cents. Seeing David Byrne sing "Psycho Killer" would have been a bargain at twice the price.

2. Bruce Springsteen. Again at the Paramount. "Candy's Room," "Spirit in the Night," "The Promised Land," all great songs, but I've never seen a band play with as much pure glee as the E Street Band displayed on "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

3. Lynyrd Skynyrd. The plane hadn't crashed yet and it was one of my first concerts. I yelled "Free Bird" before it was a cliché. My parents couldn't figure out why I was so excited when I got home and I couldn't explain it.

4. Hüsker Dü. It was just a bar band playing to a small crowd. They hadn't been signed yet and people were there mostly for the cheap beer. After a while we gave up trying to talk, got a drink, and listened.

5. Grateful Dead. I'd seen them before and would see them again, but not like this. Outside in the Texas sun, there was barbecue and a skydiver beforehand and camping and parties after. I remember "Terrapin Station" going on for what seemed like hours or at least I remember my memory of it. The next morning we got up in time to run into town for breakfast at a diner, sitting in all our post-concert glory among the families on their way from church. It was everything a Dead concert should be.

6. Patti Smith. I was still trying to decide about this thing called punk. Patti sang "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine" and I knew.

7. The Kinks. The opening chords to "Lola" started playing on a darkened stage, the crowd started chanting, Ray Davies walked on stage, paused, and said, "No. I don't think you're ready." Then he launched into another song. Every half hour or so the band would offer just the first few notes again, Ray would say, "Not yet," and off they'd go in another direction. Smarmy, maybe, but he pulled it off. When they finally played it as the encore, everyone was ready.

8. Green Day. My oldest son's first concert. He liked it just fine. Great songs, great showmanship, great fun. A perfect introduction to rock and roll.

9. U2. Eight days after taking him to Green Day, I took the boy to U2. Lucky kid. Bono takes himself a little seriously, but what the hell, he's Bono. Besides, hearing "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Pride (In the Name of Love") live is its own form of moral instruction.

10. R.E.M./Bruce Springsteen/John Fogerty. It was exhilarating to sit in an arena with thousands of other people ready to vote for anyone but George W. Bush. It was indescribable to hear Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, R.E.M., John Fogerty, Bright Eyes, and surprise guest Neil Young blast through a version of "Rockin' in the Free World" that the Devil himself would have sold his soul to play, repeating the line over and over, "We've got a kinder, gentler machine gun hand" with rage and fury and despair. The greatest show I've ever seen. The greatest show I ever expect to see.


Adorable Girlfriend said...

Bruce Springsteen?

That is so 1992!

Anonymous said...

AG- :)

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Genesis needed to get beyond Gabriel to be able to put on the massive shows they do now.
I've seen Gabriel a couple of times, and it's better that he left; he was able to develop his own vision, and Genesis went their way.

And remember, AG, insulting Genesis to irritate me also irritates BG.

Besides, today I'm all about the Mekons.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Nice array of shows, Snagg.

Violent Femmes-UWM Ballroom, 1984. Just about to release their second album, the band was still a relative unknown, outside of Milwaukee. There were about five hundred people, and I was right up front, pogoing so hard my earrings fell out. You know in "Kiss Off" where they start the counting, 'one, one, one cuz you left me' and the audience always does the lyrics? This was one of the first shows that happened at, and Gordo stopped his singing in bemusement, and Brian said "You guys are better than we are!"

Da BoDeans- some dive bar, 1985. Not my favoritest band, but "Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams" was wonderful, and at this point they had only played out three times, had no bassist yet, had not dropped the 'Da' from their name, and played for twenty people. They were on fire in a way they never were again.

The Mekons, Shank Hall, 1989. On the 'Mekons Rock 'n' Roll' tour, they were trying to play by major label rules and were tearing up small clubs across America. Like other post-punks such as Husker du and the Replacements, they were replacing snotty punk with a maturing outlook and musicianship and stellar songwriting. The show was captivating and vaulted the album to one of my favorites.

REM, Oriental Theater, 1987. Camper Van Beethoven opened. The band was starting to play larger venues, and their sound was getting larger also. Played in a 1200 seat antique theater. What else to say about one of the best bands of my generation?

dag. This is fun. Maybe I'll do a long player over at my joint. Thanks, Snagglepuss.

Anonymous said...

You know, I always feel a little unsophisticated that I love Genesis so much post-Peter Gabriel. But, it's simply a matter of that I started really listening to them post-Peter Gabriel. And the first time I saw them in concert was post-Peter Gabriel.

So, there's really nothing I can do about it. I'm an unsophisticated lout. That being said -- I also love Peter Gabriel! And totally appreciate him. And would've loved to have been old enough to have started listening to Genesis when he was prancing around in those costumes. The timing just wasn't right.

All that being said...



I saw Neil Young about 10 years ago solo. In a small theatre surrounded by about 10 different guitars and two baby grand pianos. That was *excellent.* Love, love Neil Young.

I've seen Bruce twice. The first time I saw him I couldn't get over what a male bonding event it was. Total man love everywhere -- meaning how much guys love Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuce!

Second time, I saw him with REM like you did. Great, great show. The whole political part was so inspiring -- that was back when there was *hope.*


My favorite thing was the three of them doing "Fortunate Son." So awesome.

Never saw U2, which I'm bummed about. I'd love to hear and see "Bullet the Blue Sky" live. That's one powerful song...

Anonymous said...

I always thought "Bullet the Blue Sky" was like the theme song to September 11. The words/message -- the driving beat. Put it on and crank it up and see if you agree. Try to remember that morning -- how we all felt.

Brando said...

Great list, snag. U2 gets a lot of shit, some of it deserved, but the two times I've seen them (1987 and 2001), they were fantastic live.

Of course, where I am at now, the live music scene is worse than The Mosquitoes playing on Gilligan's Island.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I saw Neil with Crazy Horse. On the "Freedom" tour.

Social Distortion and Sonic Youth opened. SY name checked local kids Die Kreuzen when they hit the stage.

It was a very loud evening.

Snag said...

BG, did you call me old? I know AG did, but she's just jealous. Anyway, thanks for your excellent suggestion on Bullet the Blue Sky. The Joshua Tree formed this morning's backdrop for my geezerly obligations.

Sonic Youth. That would be a fun one.

Anonymous said...

I love U2 and don't care what anyone says. I could watch the Edge playing the guitar all day long... he's not the best, there are other guitar players I love better who can play better, but with the Edge, there's just something there.

BG- no Eagles talk? :)

Kathleen said...

nice list of shows. I would have U2 on mine twice, 1992 and 1997. other than that, no one quite so exciting. No Doubt at USCD before they were huge. Pearl Jam, but over in San Bernardino, which is a terrible venue. Beastie Boys did a fun show in 1995 in San Diego, but the SD arena is a horrible place to see a show. Melissa Etheridge at the Cap Centre in Maryland was fun.

hmmmm, I had forgotten about some of these.

fish said...

Black Flag, Toad's Place (CT). 1986

You haven't lived until you fear for your life at a concert...

Anonymous said...

Snag, far be it from me to call you old. And now that I think about it more, the age factor shouldn't really play a part. I was, maybe 9? when I sat in front of my older cousin's stereo, all comfy on her shag carpeting and played CSN&Y's "Crossroads." -- Was Neil on that one? I think he was. I listened and stared at the album cover for hours.

Anyway. I was just a wee one when that music became part of my DNA, so I suppose "age" is no excuse.

I guess I should just say that when Peter Gabriel was with Genesis, I never really heard them or connected somehow. And who knows why that is.

Timing just wasn't there.

Jennifer, although I do not hate the Eagles like some music snobs do -- cough*bp*cough -- they were different to me. Even though I liked all they're music, they were pretty much a surface soundtrack to me when I was growing up.

They didn't seep into my DNA like Genesis.

Or.....dare I EVEN say it??!!!!

Like Elton John did!

Ok, I'm outta here before someone throws a pie at me....

Anonymous said...

Also meant to say --

Jennifer, I'm right there with you -- I love U2. Always have. I never really paid attention to Bono's huge ego. I never gave it that much thought.

I just liked their message and thought they sounded good.

Same with Sting. People are always all up in his grill.

Get over it, people!

Sting's cool.

Brando said...

Beastie Boys did a fun show in 1995 in San Diego, but the SD arena is a horrible place to see a show.

Saw my first concert at the Sports Arena -- Van Hagar on the 5150 tour.

Snag said...

By the way, AG, although I hate to admit it, Bruce Springsteen in that incarnation was so 1978.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Ummm., BG, Neddie's Eagles-hate makes mine look like puppy love.

I save my venom for "What I Like About You", remember?