Tuesday, January 30, 2007

In A Concerted Effort To Get My Mojo Working...

...and back on the horse again, it's time to talk some music....as in...Best. Concert. Ever.

But let's get real...it's too tough to pick just one. Hart categorized them last week, and I kinda liked how he did it. So we're stealing that format and crashing ahead (and since I've already gushed about Steve Earle and Tom Waits, I'm considering them exempt)...

Funnest Concert... have to go with Iggy Pop at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver in '84...you see, they have rubber tires installed under the entire dance floor, so the whole room 'bounced' for over two hours...'No Fun?' Fun!

Honourable Mention goes to Barenaked Ladies in '98 or '99 at Molson Amphitheatre... those boys know how to put on a great show and have a ball doing it...so did I.

Coolest Concert... Canadian indie band Grapes of Wrath in '84 or '85 - why? I dunno, it was a small club and the band played a stellar set...but then when the encore concluded, they didn't stop....and started taking cover requests...and hearing the Grapes doing songs like The Cars 'Just What I Needed'; The Police's 'Message in a Bottle'; and closing with a mashup of BTO's 'Taking Care of Business' blended with U2's 'I Will Follow' made it truly memorably cool...

But can't go without mentioning seeing early Black Crowes in 1990 before they broke big, and early Elvis Costello and early Police (like in 1979 on their first N. American tours promoting their first albums)...didn't really know who they were at time but knew they were worth checking out...and they were all good shows, however it's looking back on them that makes them cool as opposed to seeming really cool at the time.

Best Funk Fest... had to be Prince in Buttkick, Saskatchewan in 2003...the little man formerly known as The Artist took the stage and blazed through more than two hours of gospel/soul/jazz-inspired funk a la James Brown interspersed with maybe only half a dozen of his hits, but it didn't matter! (though 'Nothing Compares 2 U', 'How Come U Don't Call Me' and 'Snows in April' done unplugged on the piano was 'voice as instrument' magic)...the Purple One reigned supreme that night...(and if I had to pick just one show, this would probably be it)

Craziest Concert... in a hockey arena around 1980, following opening act The Greg Kihn Band, Ted Nugent swings over the crowd on a vine wearing only a loincloth to the strains of 'Cat Scratch Fever'... a show of which I remember very little having been numbed by some herb that led to me blacking out and tumbling into the row of people below me, totally freaking out two PYT's that accompanied me...I found out later it was black hash laced with opium - kids...don't do drugs!

Coolest Alt-Country Concert... without question, Dwight Yoakam in 1999 at Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto...I dig Dwight...

Biggest Concerts... Rolling Stones in '81 (85,000 in Boulder Stadium, Colorado)...David Bowie (in Bomber Stadium in Winnipeg - around 30,000)...and Phil Collins (35,000 in Skydome Toronto) - I think it was '94...took place the same night as the OJ Simpson freeway chase.

Biggest Small Concert... Bryan Adams when he was on top of the world in '90 or '91 at a tiny club in Vancouver as part of some charity benefit. Wasn't the biggest Adams fan but he put on a heck of a show and was right there in front of me!

Earliest Concert... the first live show I ever saw was The Stampeders in '78 I think, but my first 'real' concert - like with strobe lights and smoke bombs and screaming girls - was Cheap Trick in early '79 riding the wave of their hits 'Surrender' and 'I Want You To Want Me'..."squeal"

Most Disappointing Concert.... unfortunately (cuz I'm a huge fan) it was Van Morrison - 1997 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto - where the back up singer was called upon by the Big Man to sing lead vocals on over 50% of his songs...including 'Domino'?...and 'Moondance'??? as Van stood off to the side or just plain left the stage. People were booing. And the sound was muddy. And it was hot and stuffy. Yeah, it sucked.

Still Hope To See... U2, Radiohead, Bruce Springsteen, ACDC, Bob Mould...

Wish I'd Seen... The Clash, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Who, Stevie Ray Vaughn...

I'm going to close with Best Concert Moment Ever...and that goes to Muddy Waters. I've seen a lot of the old bluesmen live... Howlin' Wolf, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, James Cotton...but it was the Mudman who made the biggest impression.

When I saw him it was 1982, in a small college auditorium classroom...he was quite old...had to be helped out onto the stage and spent the show sitting on a stool, just picking his guitar and playing the blues...

Further setting the scene, Mississippi had no help here. The acoustics were okay, but there weren't any special effects or sexy background singers, no flashy lightshow (I can't remember if it was just fluorescents overhead, but for the purpose of this story, let's say there was). The man had nothing to carry him but his voice, his guitar, his band, and his reputation. But I was mesmerized for an hour and a half: "Blow Wind Blow', 'Hoochie Coochie Man', 'Baby Please Don't Go', 'Mojo Working'....wow.

And then he launches into 'Mannish Boy'...and the mostly white buttoned-down college crowd perks up, recognizing that familiar chord riff...duh duh duh duh..."When I was a young boy"... Duh duh duh duh... "At the age of five"...Duh duh duh duh... and I felt myself rising up out of my seat, but look around nervously...there was security everywhere - this was supposed to be a 'sit and listen' show - but then Waters growls: "I spell it 'M' ..."... the crowd begins to clap along ... " Aaaaa child!"... 'N!'..."That rabble spell MAN!"...

Oh my...

Then he gets to the part where he wails 'Ain't that a man'... and slowly he stands up from the stool and grabs the mike..."I said ain't that a man!" He's literally quivering...spitting out the words as the band continues to play behind him. I can't help myself. Start jumping up and down and screaming 'Wooohooo!!!' I wasn't alone. The room just lost it.

Security starts scrambling to keep order...but Waters ignores them and makes his way down the steps at the front of the stage and joins the now standing front row of the crowd (I was about 4 rows back). The man could barely walk, but lo and behold he was grooving. And perhaps it was what he did every show...you know, showbiz theatrics, but for those few minutes I honestly believed that the music had somehow flowed through his veins and made him rise up and dance...Halleluiah!

"Maannnnnn!"

Muddy Waters - Mannish Boy



Best. Concert. Moment. Ever.

Muddy Waters passed away the following year. I felt blessed to see him and experience him, live and in concert.

Let's hear some of your concert stories...

14 comments:

EditThis said...

I'm embarrassed to say that my first concert ever was Huey Lewis and the News, though it was a great show -the Sports tour in 84.

Honestly, one of the best concerts I've ever seen BOTH times I've seen him is Billy Joel. He's a true showman.

Best concert from a band after they were famous: Def Leppard about 5 years ago. Still amazingly tight.

Biggest disappointment: Elvis Costello. He did a completely acoustic set. I would have rather seen him 20 years earlier with the Attractions.

Good Dog said...

Haven't been to many concerts. Dodgy hearing in one ear from an old farm accident when... ah, I lived on a farm.

Having said that, saw Springsteen at Wembley Statium during the Born in the USA tour. Stevie Windwood at the Royal Albert Hall was good (although after a busy week some of the songs lulled me to sleep).

Worst was Suzanne Vega at Hammersmith Odeon. Girlfriend at the time made me go.

bstockton said...

Of the ones you list, the ones I also saw were Cheap Trick in Regina, about 1979 (opening act Prism?) and David Bowie in Winnipeg (opening act Duran Duran, who had only recently become uncool (for the first time))

I'm surprised Cheat Trick was your first, I saw Kiss a couple years before that. You can't beat exploding guitars when you're 13 years old.

Best for me: Jane Siberry at the Education Auditorium in Regina, mid 80's, Nomeansno at the Horshoe Tavern, Toronto, around 2004 (their 25th annivesary and rocking harder than any punks before or since.) Barenaked Ladies at Ontario Place Forum (remember that, before the Molson Amphiteatre?) just before they were famous. Klaatu at the Student Union, Regina. Sons of Freedom in a smallish club in Regina; the light show was a 100 watt bulb hanging from the ceiling. I miss Sons of Freedom.

Hey, I just realised those are all Canadians.

Brian

DMc said...

James Brown, Ontario Place Forum, sometime in the 80's.
Ella Fitzgerald, Massey Hall, sometime mid 80s
Billy Bragg, Horseshoe Tavern, 2002
Damien Rice, Convocation Hall, 2004
David Bowie, Warehouse, 1997
Prince, Maple Leaf Gardens, 1983
Buddy Guy, Live at Bravo! Rehearsal Hall, 2005 or 2004
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Exhibition Stadium, 1985
Ryan Adams, Lee's Palace, Thanksgiving 2001, with special guest Elton John
Police Picnic, 1983
Cowboy Junkies, Clinton's Tavern, 1989
Los Lobos, Massey Hall, 2006
Ornette Coleman, Massey Hall, 2006
Beck, Austin Music Hall, 1995
Clumsy Lovers, Continental Club, Austin, 2002
Lucinda Williams, Convocation Hall, 1998
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New Orleans, 1993
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot tour, Warehouse
Steve Earle, Koolhaus, 2005
Calexico, Lee's Palace, 2003
Spirit of the West, Ryerson University Pub, 1990
U2, Massey Hall, 1984.

DMc said...

James Brown, Ontario Place Forum, sometime in the 80's.
Ella Fitzgerald, Massey Hall, sometime mid 80s
Billy Bragg, Horseshoe Tavern, 2002
Damien Rice, Convocation Hall, 2004
David Bowie, Warehouse, 1997
Prince, Maple Leaf Gardens, 1983
Buddy Guy, Live at Bravo! Rehearsal Hall, 2005 or 2004
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Exhibition Stadium, 1985
Ryan Adams, Lee's Palace, Thanksgiving 2001, with special guest Elton John
Police Picnic, 1983
Cowboy Junkies, Clinton's Tavern, 1989
Los Lobos, Massey Hall, 2006
Ornette Coleman, Massey Hall, 2006
Beck, Austin Music Hall, 1995
Clumsy Lovers, Continental Club, Austin, 2002
Lucinda Williams, Convocation Hall, 1998
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New Orleans, 1993
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot tour, Warehouse
Steve Earle, Koolhaus, 2005
Calexico, Lee's Palace, 2003
Spirit of the West, Ryerson University Pub, 1990
U2, Massey Hall, 1984.

DMc said...

Funniest Concert...

Billy Bragg at The Ontario Place Forum, slagging off both Duran Duran (who were playing at the Ex) and Molson (who had big sponsorship banners up.)

Coolest Concert...
Irish Singer Songwriter Damien Rice at Convocation Hall in 2004. They lit up the big organ while the feedback roared and roared, and you could hear a pin drop when he was done. Also, his backup singer Lisa Hannigan did the sexiest version of Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues I have EVER heard.

Best Funk Fest...
The Godfather of Soul, Ontario Place Forum, sometime in the 80s. O My Mercy. But there was also Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at the Horseshoe in 2005.

Craziest Concert...
Steve Earle at the Warehouse -- just cause he stopped drinking doesn't mean...
Also, the Police Picnic in 1983, because I lied to my parents to be able to go. And got into trouble.
And Spirit of the West at the Ryerson Pub in my last year of School, because of what I did before, during, and after the show.

Coolest Alt-Country Concert...Ryan Adams at Lee's Palace on Canadian Thanksgiving 2001, because hearing New York New York one month after 9/11 was surreal enough, and then Elton John walked out.

Biggest Concerts...Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Exhibition Stadium, 1985. Stones Skydome, 2004 or 2003, Paul McCartney, early 90's, Skydome

Biggest Small Concert...
Barenaked Ladies at the Ultrasound, every Monday for about two months in 1991, just after my friend Tyler joined.
All the shows I snuck into at Much...
Buddy Guy, Live at the Rehearsal Hall at Bravo! because he was so touched to be on TV.
U2 Massey Hall, 1984. Because I didn't have a ticket snuck in, and still managed to make it up front.

Earliest Concert...
Hall and Oates, 1978, Maple Leaf Gardens. My cousin took me. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts Opened. It was Awesome.
Ray Charles, Ontario Place, 1980 or so.

Most disappointing Concert...
Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Koolhaus, 2005. He was totally drunk and unfocused.

Lucinda Williams, Massey Hall, World Without Tears tour. She's usually awesome, but this time she was just out of it.

Still Hope To See...
Stones in a club.
Dylan when he's totally on top of things.
Same with Van Morrison.
Police Reunion, 2007, baby.
Prince in Las Vegas

Wish I'd seen...
Nirvana -- could have gone
Clash
Stevie Ray Vaughn
John Lennon
Miles Davis

Best concert moment ever: The Spoons at my high school cause I had a girlfriend, a mickey, and a master key that got me into dark, dark rooms...

Although the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans in the early 90's comes close.

DMc said...

Well blogger is stupid and it won't let me delete those two duplicate comments it wouldn't let me delete before my real comment i hate blogger blogger can bite me

Jutratest said...

I gotta get out more! DMC!

First concert AC/DC Thunderstruck tour, Vancouver.

Best concert... Bruce Springsteen, Ghost of Tom Joad tour, accustical set in Massey Hall.

My first CD purchase ever was Bruce's live box set, and I sold my dog's puppies to be able to afford it.

wcdixon said...

Damn. DAMN.

I knew you'd kick my ass McGrath, just didn't think it would be so badly.

The Spoons...Damn! Pre-'Romantic Traffic'? Or post?

Look I left a lot on the shelf...Lauryn Hill, Jamariqui, 10,000 Maniacs, Skydiggers, Simple Minds, Jackson Browne, James Taylor...Cowboy Junkies at the Horseshoe debuting their '88 release The Trinity Session - but the reality was I was kinda bored that night...so, off the list.

Oh well, I can always point at the four kids and say...'hey, a lot of the time I was busy!'

Jutra: I had a ticket to see AcDc in Edmonton on that Thunderstruck tour...and I bailed, gave the ticket away, and I can't for the life of me remember why. Angus and the boys should go on the Still Hope To See list...

Stockton: It was "Spaceship Superstar" Prism wasn't it, I'd totally forgotten.

Good Dog: well, I'd take Winwood and Springsteen over most of mine.

editthis: had tickets to see Joel with Elton John in L.A. and had to miss it...and also can't remember why. Memory is fading...

blueglow said...

Writer guys talking about their best concerts is akin to regular guys talking about the women they have bed.

And the number one rule is that it's always best to see a band before it hits it big and our love for them turns to disdain.

Warren Zevon -- everytime I saw him, even the shitty show in the Commodore, but especially in the horseshoe in Toronto and some unremembered club in Aukland, new Zealand. (hey props! I sound like a real asshole there). But always Mr Zevon.

Elvis Costello in the Pacific Coluseum Concert Bowl (77/78?). Forty five minute set and then sent fleeing from the hall with an unrestrained burst of white noise. (Then got the shit kicked out of me as I got tied up in some crazy FRAT incident. I was not a member of any of the warring factions but somehow it still didn't turn out well for me).

Then I saw Bob Dylan the next nite -- the show when he went all Vegas (lIve at Budakon). I was all bloody and cut up and the show was confusing. But it was Bob -- seen him a few more times. Sometimes really good, others....

Clash and Nirvana. Just so I can say I saw both of them. They kicked out the big windows on the third floor of the Gardens and the glass rained down on the crowd.

Rockpile (Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds et al). Not my favourite band but the venue and the moment. Day after John Lennon died. Rockpile had the unenviable task of playing the Commodore. True to thier moniker they rocked the joint. Happy, sad, Cameron Crowe moment.

Gang of Four. I absolutefucking loved this band. I don't know why, I'm hardly leftist, but these guys rocked and Andy Gill's guitar. The baseline and the polemic --mesmerizing. Wheelchair guy in the moshpit a definite highlight.

Then wonder of wonders I saw the reunion show in the Pheonix in Toronto. Went to that with great trepidation. Inside were a bunch of vaguely embarrased looking forty sometings, a odd collection of arivistes and very few women.

Gang of Four came on. They blew the place away. That simple. There may have been a tear.

Then there was this blonde that worked in a bar I was drinking at and....

See what I mean?

Worst. Unfortunately, the Pouges and then the Popes. Both featuring Shane McGowan (who is my sugar to the aforementioned Mr Zevon's salt). He was too drunk. Just too drunk. Both times.

Not that I have anything against being a drunkard but it just made be sad and then pissed off.

bstockton said...

I heard 'Spaceship Superstar' on the radio the other day, it was great! (Regina radio, where songs go to die) It was favourite song of Grade 8 for sure (and maybe Grade 9 too, I was a bit of a geek)

They just announced tickets for the Junos in Saskatoon. Maybe I'm naive (or cheap)(or poor) but $80.00 to $150.00 seems a little steep for tickets to the taping of a TV show. Being a big canuck music fan I love the Junos, but now I'm torn.

Brian

wcdixon said...

blueglow: Triple DAMN.

Thanks for the Gang o' Four and Rockpile flashbacks...been a while since I thought of them...

Callaghan said...

I'm late to this party again, and I don't have time to list my concerts right now, but I had to stop in and say:

Holy %$@*@%&*%$# Dixon, that story about Muddy Waters was amazing. I wish I could go back in time and tell seven year old me to go to that show in 1982.

wcdixon said...

And I wrote this specifically with you in mind, Callaghan. "sigh"