Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Concert Trek--Episode 7

For those of you just joining in, this is not a countdown, but rather a chronological anthology of every concert I've ever attended.  And believe it or not, I'm barely even a third of the way through...

31) Genesis (Sunday, January 29, 1984—Kemper Arena) Ticket price: $11.50

I had always heard a lot of good things about Genesis in concert prior to seeing them, both aurally and visually, and those rumors were quite true.  Their self-titled 1983 album was still high on the charts and the videos from it were all over MTV around the first of the year.  With no opening act, it was all Genesis, and they put on a very good show, indeed, and this was my first and only indoor concert to ever have a weather-related delay.

The set list was pretty much filled out by songs from their three most recent albums, Genesis, Abacab and Duke, with a couple from the ‘70s thrown in like "Follow You, Follow Me" and "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway".  In addition to the core trio of Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks, the band was augmented by guitarist/bassist Darryl Stuermer and drummer Chester Thompson, both of whom are excellent musicians who don’t get a whole lot of ink.  Collins spent about half the show singing up front and the other half behind the drums, while Stuermer and Rutherford traded off playing bass and six-string guitar and Tony Banks manned his phalanx of keyboards.  Highlights included "Mama" and "Home By The Sea" from the new record, as well as "Abacab" and "Turn It On Again".

Another potential highlight was dashed about a minute into "Illegal Alien", when the arena went totally dark briefly and the emergency lights came on.  It was windy as all get-out that night, and one of the transformers near Kemper Arena evidently blew its top, causing a momentary power outage.  The band left the stage and someone from the arena staff came on to reassure the crowd that it was a house problem and that everything was okay.  After about a ten-minute delay, Genesis returned and Phil Collins grumbled about the "great electrical system you have in this town", and instead of restarting "Illegal Alien" (a favorite of mine), they launched into the ever-droning "Misunderstanding" (not a particularly big favorite of mine).

In spite of that blemish, it was a fine show with outstanding audio, and Genesis employed one of the best light shows I’ve ever seen, apart from maybe Kiss and the Rolling Stones.  Even from the nosebleed seats on the stage right side at a severe angle, the view was spectacular.  As good as they were, for whatever reason, I never have seen Genesis in concert since.

32) Ozzy Osbourne/Motley Crue (Saturday, February 11, 1984—Municipal Auditorium) Ticket price: $12.50

My first concert encounter with the Ozz-Man, as well as this upstart band Motley Crue that reminded me a lot of Kiss—this turned out to be a terrific double-bill.

The Crue opened with a nice, tight 45-minute set that featured their second LP, Shout At The Devil.  Motley Crue wasn’t quite as outrageous as I was expecting them to be—Ozzy’s camp probably made them tone down their act—but I was fairly impressed anyway.  Oddly enough, I haven’t seen them in concert since, and I’ve heard very iffy reviews about their subsequent tours, especially their most recent ones.

This was Ozzy’s first tour with guitarist Jake E. Lee, who replaced the late Randy Rhoads for Bark At The Moon, and he acquitted himself quite well.  While not quite as flashy as Rhoads, he was still a standout, and handled the inevitable comparisons to his late predecessor pretty well.  This was also my first look at drummer Tommy Aldridge, whose work in Black Oak Arkansas in the ‘70s I enjoyed very much—this guy is a primo basher on the skins, on which he even uses his bare hands during his drum solos!  If memory serves, I believe Bob Daisley was the bassist on this tour, as Rudy Sarzo had left Ozzy’s band the year before to join Quiet Riot, and Don Airey played the keyboards.

Meantime, Ozzy was Ozzy, ambling around the stage all night exhorting the crowd to make noise.  There was no bat-biting on this night, of course, but he put on a surprisingly good show anyway.  One highlight was "Centre Of Eternity" (great song, btw) when these guys dressed like monks carrying candles wandered on stage during the song’s mournful intro chant with the bell tolling, creating a rather ominous scene that fit the mood of the evening perfectly.  Outside it was unseasonably warm that night, and the area was in a Tornado Watch when we arrived—a rarity around these parts in mid-February.

I was a bit disappointed there were no lazers in this show like I’d seen Ozzy use on prior shows on MTV, but they weren’t really needed, I guess.  Much was made about Ozzy’s new song "So Tired" being his first slow ballad (how quickly everyone forgot "Changes" from Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4), and there was a lot of speculation about whether or not he’d do the song live.  He didn’t—they merely played the album track on the PA when the lights came up at the show’s end.  The rest of the set was filled with Ozzy’s biggies, like "Flying High Again", "Crazy Train" and "Paranoid", as well as new stuff like "Bark At The Moon" and "Rock ‘N’ Roll Rebel".  I was hoping he’d do two others from Bark that I really liked, "Slow Down" and "Waiting For Darkness", but we can’t have everything, now can we?  Overall though, it was a pretty good (and loud) night of Rock ‘N’ Roll.

33) Van Halen/The Velcros (Wednesday, June 20, 1984—Kemper Arena) Ticket price: $13.50

Another fun show, as Van Halen managed to put up a pretty good public front that made things seem like business as usual, but as we found out later, the rifts in the band were beginning to form.  By this time, David Lee Roth insisted on arriving at gigs separately from the rest of the band and have his own dressing room, etc., and he and his ego were becoming intolerable to deal with.  Little did we know this would be our fourth and final round in concert with Diamond Dave as VH’s frontman.

The stage itself for this tour was Van Halen’s biggest and sleekest yet, complete with plenty of room to romp, stacks and stacks of speakers and amps, and the ever-present gym mat in front of Alex Van Halen’s drum riser for DLR’s jump landings.  Apart from "Hot For Teacher" and "Panama", I thought the stuff on 1984 was pretty weak, and my dislike for "Jump" is well-noted on this blog.  Fortunately, VH didn’t lean all that heavy on their new record, and the setlist covered their entire career to that point.  The highlight of the night was during the encores when a huge cake in honor of bassist Michael Anthony’s birthday was paraded onto the stage, and a major league food fight ensued, as the boys trashed the stage with the cake.  I can’t remember if it was Eddie Van Halen or Anthony, but one of them damn near fell on their ass while slipping on some cake.

VH also continued their time-honored tradition of bringing along another nameless, faceless band to open the show.  This time the honor went to the nondescript Velcros.  The only thing I recall about them is one of the guys resembled the late Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy.  Beyond that, fuhgeddaboudit!

34) The Jacksons/Chris Bliss (Saturday, July 7, 1984—Arrowhead Stadium) Ticket price: $28.00

Remember all the uproar Michael Jackson and his brothers caused when they announced their Victory tour, and that you had to buy four tickets via mail order, and they were 28 bucks a pop?  Remember how outraged everyone was at the exorbitant ticket price and strident ordering system?  Remember how they tried to justify the ticket price by saying that Broadway shows charged $50 bucks a pop at the time, so this was a bargain by comparison?  Remember when Michael Jackson was still a good-looking black guy?  Well, one almost longs for those days now, since $28 for concert tickets would be a fucking steal today, and Michael Jackson has been replaced by a walking-talking child-molesting zombie!

The eyes of the world were focused on Kansas City that weekend, as The Jacksons kicked off their much-anticipated Victory tour with a three-night stand at Arrowhead Stadium.  Not since Raquel Welch starred in Kansas City Bomber had this town received so much attention!  Okay, I’m just kidding there.  I really wasn’t too keen on forking over $28 to Michael and his bros., but my friend Tom went ahead and sent off for tickets anyway, and damned if we didn’t get some for the second night, so I attended "under protest".

As good as my memory is, and for all the anticipation and build-up, you’d think I’d remember more about this concert than I do.  That’s not to say it was a bad show at all—it was a very good concert, but for whatever reason, I’m having trouble dialing up too many details about it.  I do remember the set list was about half-Jacksons and half-Michael solo stuff, and MJ danced his ass off all night.  "Billie Jean", "Beat It" and "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)" were high points, but that’s about all I remember.  Oh wait, I also remember Tito Jackson sported a shirt with his first name in big letters on the front, but his guitar strap covered up the ‘O’!  That’s about it, really, apart from walking away feeling like I’d seen a good concert, but still hardly worth the kind of money they were charging.

Instead of a music act, the Jacksons opted to have comedian Chris Bliss open the show for them.  His act had one distinctive feature—a juggling finale bit he did under black light to make the objects glow in the dark and set to the tune of The Beatles’ "Carry That Weight/The End".  The only reason I remember this is because I saw the same comedian doing the same bit at one of the comedy clubs a few years later...

35) The Go-Go's/Red Rockers (Friday, September 7, 1984--Sandstone Amphitheater) Ticket price: $11.00

My first concert outside of the state of Missouri was also my first visit to one of my least-favorite concert venues, the newly-opened Sandstone Amphitheater near Bonner Springs, Kansas.  I was very underwhelmed by the Spartan-like amenities of the place, not to mention the crappy sightlines from the lawn area we were camped out in.  At least the lawn came in handy during the opening act, Red Rockers (of "China" fame)—it enabled me to stretch out and take a nap during their lame performance!

In what turned out to be The Go-Go's final tour before breaking up (the first time), they were actually touring on a much better album (Talk Show) than the last time we saw them in '82, but the spark just wasn't quite there anymore.  I've watched concert videos from this same tour, and although it wasn't readily apparent then, the strains of touring were beginning to tear the group apart, and it was a case of too much, too soon.  This wasn't a bad show, mind you, but overall it was just okay.  Some things just aren't meant to last.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Thanks for posting these concert memoirs. I was at the Ozzy-Motley Crue concert on 2/11/84. It was my first concert at the young age of 14....just two days before. My 19 year old cousin was my chaperone. I don't remember much except that Ozzy had a huge staircase with large mechanical bats on the bottoms of the bannisters. Thanks for posting your memories.