Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Concert Trek - Episode 10

Rollin', rollin', rollin'keep that trek a-rollin'...

46) Deep Purple/Bad Company (Tuesday, May 5, 1987--Kemper Arena) Ticket price: $15.00

Following that Paul Revere & The Raiders show in July, 1986, yet another unexplained extended period of concert inactivity ensued.  My best guess is I was pre-occupied with my Senior year in college, as well as my internship and subsequent employment at the “Mighty 1030”, KKJC-AM in Blue Springs, MO.  In any event, by May, 1987, I was singing “School’s out forever!”  I didn’t even bother attending my own graduation ceremony, but I digress…

Deep Purple’s second post-reunion album, The House Of Blue Light wasn’t nearly as successful as 1984’s Perfect Strangers, but I really liked it.  I would even submit that it was the last really good album DP ever made, although 1990’s Slaves And Masters with Joe Lynn Turner replacing Ian Gillan on vocals did have its moments.  As for this concert, it was rather so-so.  Much to my chagrin, Purple only played four songs from the new album (“The Unwritten Law”, “Bad Attitude”, “Dead Or Alive” and my favorite, “Hard Lovin’ Woman”), but there were some other good ones like “Black And White”, “Call Of The Wild“ and “Strangeways“ that they could‘ve also done, and I really could‘ve done without the likes of “Child In Time“ and “Lazy” again.  They made up for that a bit by including an old fave that we didn’t hear in ‘85, the mighty “Woman From Tokyo”.

The excitement generated by the reunion of Gillan, Lord, Blackmore, Paice and Glover in 1984-85 was replaced by apathy this time ‘round, as Kemper Arena was only about half-full for this show, and I distinctly remember my friend Tom and I had plenty of empty real estate in the upper deck surrounding us as we were able to stretch our legs out over the row in front of us without pissing anyone off. Speaking of pissing, the other thing I distinctly remember about this concert was the drunk idiot who just couldn’t wait and took a whiz right down the steps in the aisle to our right.  Fortunately, no one was seated anywhere near him, and we made sure to exit to our left.

Just to show you how undistinguished this concert was, I didn’t even remember that Bad Company was the opening act until I perused the log I kept of all the shows I’ve attended.  This was the Brian Howe version of Bad. Co., and sadly, I honestly don’t remember a damn thing about their set.  Please forgive me…

SET LIST:  Highway Star/Strange Kind Of Woman/The Unwritten Law/Dead Or Alive/Perfect Strangers/Hard Lovin' Woman/Knockin' At Your Back Door/Child In Time/Bad Attitude/Lazy/Space Truckin'  ENCORES:  Woman From Tokyo/Black Night/Smoke On The Water

47) Kiss/White Lion (Thursday, November 26, 1987Kansas Expocentre, Topeka) Ticket price: $14.00

Back in the olden days of the late ‘80s, there weren’t no such thing as the Internet, so news traveled rather slowly around these parts back then.  Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have even been aware of a Kiss concert taking place in Topeka, KS, which is a mere 80 miles from Raytown, but as luck would have it, Tom and I attended a Kansas City Comets indoor soccer exhibition game just a month earlier at the brand new Expocentre in the capital of the Land of Oz, and their marquee kept hyping an upcoming show by Kiss on Thanksgiving night.  Well, fuckin’-A, we were there, dude!  We wound up getting pretty decent seats too, just about three rows off the floor on the stage left side, about halfway back from the stage. Too bad the show didn’t live up to my expectations…

The Crazy Nights tour is generally regarded by most fans as the worst Kiss tour ever, and I tend to agree.  The band acted as if they were double-parked out back, as the set lists were generally very short, and the production was rather sparse by Kiss standards.  On some nights, each member of the band took a solo, and on others, they didn’t bother with them, like on this hit-and-run night in Topeka when they barely played an hour and 15 minutes, which didn’t sit well with yours truly.  For this tour, Kiss utilized what I like to call the “CD Stage”, which resembled an giant metal compact disc that had wedged itself into the back of the stage at a 45-degree angle, with Eric Carr’s massive drum set occupying the CD’s “hole”.  And once again, they employed the big, clunky light-up Kiss logo from the Asylum tour, which I never much cared foragain, bigger ain’t necessarily better!

As for the music, “Love Gun” was the opener and “Detroit Rock City” was the closer, which was backwards in my book.  Meantime, they omitted a couple really good tracks off their new album, namely “Hell Or High Water” and “Good Girl Gone Bad”, while “Bang Bang You” (not to be confused with “Gang Bang You”) fell really flat.  Paul Stanley’s standard stage rap about “I went to the doctor today to get myself checked out…” also didn’t ring true when you consider that it was Thanksgiving and there wasn’t a doctor’s office open anywhere near Topeka that day!  Another thing one finds striking when viewing video of this tour is how skinny Gene Simmons was back thenthe man looked borderline anorexic!

There was a bit of levity during the encores, as Kiss futzed around with then-current popular hit “La Bamba”, featuring Gene’s horrible Spanish, as well as a few verses of Led Zep’s “Stairway To Heaven” played to a Country beat that was downright hilarious.  Still overall, this was a disappointing show from a band that I’d come to expect a whole lot better from…

SET LIST:  Love Gun/Cold Gin/Bang Bang You/Fits Like A Glove/Crazy Crazy Nights/No No No/War Machine/I Love It Loud/Reason To Live/Heaven's On Fire/Lick It Up  ENCORES:  La Bamba/Stairway To Heaven/Rock And Roll All Nite/Tears Are Falling/Detroit Rock City

Meantime, the Hottest Band In The World was damn near upstaged by its opening act, Pop-Metal upstarts White Lion.  I knew nothing about these guys before this night, but I was very impressed with what I saw from these youngstas.  Singer Mike Tramp bore a passing resemblance to David Lee Roth (minus the spandex), as he proved to be a fine front man, and the crowd responded very positively to these guys as they performed “Wait“, “Tell Me“, and “When The Children Cry“, among others, off their second album Pride.  It was rather fun to watch an up-and-coming band on the verge of stardom.

48) “Monsters Of Rock”Van Halen/Scorpions/Dokken/Metallica/Kingdom Come (Sunday, July 10, 1988Arrowhead Stadium) Ticket price: $25.00

A little background first here.  By this time, I was working weekends at KKJO/KSFT in St. Joseph, MO, doing the 50-mile commute back and forth from Raytown to do my graveyard shift gig, and I had to work all night the night before this concert.  I was hoping to at least grab a cat nap when I got back home Sunday morning around 7:30, but my brain was so wired that I don’t think I even nodded off once after I landed in bed.  Thus, I had already been continuously awake since like 5:00 Saturday afternoon when my friends rounded me up for the concert on Sunday, which was slated to begin at 1:30.  Good thing I was young at the time!  In spite of my fatigue, I kept meticulous notes about the show, especially the times when bands came on and off stage.

It was also the end of an era, as this was the last of the all-day multi-act concerts at Arrowhead that I ever attended, and may well have been the last one, period.  There were certainly other concerts there after this one, like The Rolling Stones, The Who, U2, Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, et al, but this was the last multi-act marathon that I can recall being staged at the home of the Chefs.

The stadium gates opened at 11:30, and we snagged pretty good seats downstairs at stage left about halfway up which would have been 50-yard-line seats for a Chiefs game.  Kingdom Come hit the stage at precisely 1:36PM, and played a 41-minute set.  Critics lambasted KC for sounding like a third-rate Led Zeppelin rip-off, but they weren’t so bad.  Their lead singer Danny Stag (don’t look at me, I didn’t name him!) did sound a might close to Robert Plant at times on their hit “Get It On” from their debut release.  He made some lame comment about turning Arrowhead into a “gigantic rocking unit” as he tried to work the crowd, but overall they were tolerable.

About half-an-hour later, Metallica came on board and played for just over an hour.  This was just before they hit the big-time, so I wasn’t all that familiar with them yet.  I couldn’t quite figure out why singer James Hetfield stood hunched over his microphone like he had the shits, but hey whatever works, I guess.  Metallica is a band I’ve yet to totally embrace—they’re certainly raw enough, just like Motorhead, but their music bores me for some reason.  I don’t relate well to their typical subject matter and they lack Lemmy’s sense of humor too.  Metallica was fairly well-received that day, but their set wasn’t terribly memorable.

Another half-hour passed and Dokken hit the stage around 4:20.  The poor man’s Bon Jovi, so to speak, Dokken were probably at the height of their popularity at the time with hits like “Into The Fire”, “Breaking The Chains” and “Just Got Lucky”, and they were surprisingly tolerable in concert.  Their set was exactly one minute longer than Metallica’s.

As the day wore on, the set changes took longer to execute, and it took 45 minutes to get things lined up for Scorpions, who came on about ten after six and played some “world-class Rock ‘N’ Roll” as the newspaper critic at the time termed it.  They were touring in support of one of their better albums, Savage Amusement, which yielded the hits “Believe In Love” and “Rhythm Of Love”, but they mixed in several old favorites like “Love Drive” and “The Zoo”, which was a highlight of the set.  To put it in their native tongue, Scorpions were fairly wunderbar on this day.

After an interminable set change of over an hour (which might partly have been to allow for the sun to set), Van Halen finally ambled onstage just before 8:30.  Of the three times I saw VH in concert with Sammy Hagar, this one was probably the best.  OU812 was easily my favorite album from the Van Hagar era, and they weren’t shy about playing stuff from it, as five tracks from their new record made the cut, although surprisingly, “Finish What Ya Started” wasn’t one of them.  Another surprise was the inclusion of the David Lee Roth era classic “Runnin’ With The Devil”, which I never thought I’d ever hear Hagar singing.  Eddie Van Halen did his usual 10-minute guitar solo, which I nearly nodded-off during, believe it or not, because I was running on fumes by that time!  For some reason, Hagar kept bitching about the sound being bad that night, and added, “If I’d paid to get in, I woulda been pissed,” but I don’t remember the show sounding bad at all.  This show was certainly an improvement over the bland gig they played two years earlier at Kemper Arena.  Van Halen played an hour and 40 minutes, and the show ended at 10:08PM.  By the time I got home and crashed, I had set my own personal endurance record for continuous sleeplessness of 31 hours and 19 minutes. I think I slept for a week after that…

SET LIST:  Summer Nights/There's Only One Way To Rock/Panama/bass solo/Runnin' With The Devil/Why Can't This Be Love?/Mine All Mine/drum solo/You Really Got Me/Sucker In A 3 Piece/When It's Love/I Can't Drive 55/Best Of Both Worlds/guitar solo/Black And Blue/Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love  ENCORE:  A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)/Rock 'N' Roll

49) Moody Blues/Cheap Trick/Glass Tiger (Tuesday, August 16, 1988—Sandstone Amphitheater) Ticket price: $5.00

This was by far the strangest triple-bill I’ve ever attended, but a surprisingly good concert all the same.  I’m not quite sure how we came by the $5 tickets, but it cost us just as much to park as it did to get in at that lovely dump called Sandstone Amphitheater.  We arrived just as Glass Tiger was playing their one and only claim to fame “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)”, so I can’t really comment on their set.

As much as I like Cheap Trick, I’m surprised it took me nearly ten years to see them in concert after becoming a fan.  The Tricksters were riding a wave of resurgence in 1988 with their excellent comeback album Lap Of Luxury, and they played a very good opening set on this night.  Rick Nielsen brought with him his usual flotilla of guitars and trotted a different one out for every song, including a double-necked number that bore his own likeness.  The guy is about a goofy-looking as one can be, but he does play a mean guitar.  “For this next song,” Nielsen said to the crowd, “we all just want to say THANK YOU!” and they launched into “The Flame”, which hit #1 for two weeks in July, and is one of my favorite power ballads of all-time.  CT also did “Never Had A Lot To Lose” (a favorite of mine) and “Let Go” from Lap, as well as their wonderfully silly Elvis cover of “Don’t Be Cruel”, featuring Tom Petersson on his stand-up 12-string electric bass.  Hell, Entwistle never even played 12 strings at once!  Drummer Bun E. Carlos was rock-solid, as always, and singer Robin Zander—when properly motivated—is one of the better front men out there, and he was in fine form during their hour-and-ten-minute set.

SET LIST [In no particular order]:  Just Got Back/On Top Of The World/Let Go/Don't Be Cruel/California Man/The Flame/I Want You To Want Me/Surrender/Ain't That A Shame/Goodnight Now/I Know What I Want/Dream Police/ Never Had A Lot To Lose

Again, how we managed to have such disparate bands as Cheap Trick and the Moody Blues on the same tour is a mystery to me, but no matter, as the Moodies played a fine set of their own, despite focusing mainly on their ‘80s repertoire instead of their classic ‘60s/70’s work.  Surprisingly, they only performed three songs off their newest record Sur La Mer (that’s “on the sea” in French for youse Americans), including the hit single “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”.  Nice song, but it was too long and drawn-out for my liking—it kept going around in a circle, and they could’ve easily lopped 2-3 minutes off the song and still gotten their point across.  Same goes for John Lodge’s “Talking Out Of Turn” from Long Distance Voyager.

This turned out to be the final tour for keyboardist Patrick Moraz (big hair dude standing on the left in the pic), whose synthesizers more or less replaced his predecessor Mike Pinder’s signature mellotron sound.  That was fine for the ‘80s, but not for their older tunes.  Speaking of which, singer/percussionist Ray Thomas nearly brought the house down with his flute solo during his classic “Legend Of A Mind”, while “Tuesday Afternoon”, “Nights And White Satin” and “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock ‘N’ Roll Band)” more than made up for all that ‘80s stuff they played.  “Ride My See-Saw” and “Question” made for a nice one-two punch during the encore, too.  Not a bad concert for five bucks, either!

SET LIST [In No Particular Order]:  Gemini Dream/The Voice/Here Comes The Weekend/I Know You're Out There Somewhere/The Other Side Of Life/Your Wildest Dreams/Want To Be With You/Tuesday Afternoon/Rock And Roll Over You/New Horizons/Isn't Life Strange?/Question/Nights In White Satin/Veteran Cosmic Rocker/Legend Of A Mind/Ride My See-Saw/Talking Out Of Turn/I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock ‘N’ Roll Band)

50) Chicago/Henry Lee Summer (Sunday, August 21, 1988—Sandstone Amphitheater) Ticket price: Free

During the summer of ‘88 while working at the radio station in St. Joseph, I enjoyed the perks of having connections to free tickets to stuff at St. Joseph Civic Arena like midget wrestling and the closed-circuit TV viewing of the Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks boxing match that lasted all of a minute-and-a-half (which some fools paid $3,000 to get into in Vegas).  We also had access to free Sandstone tickets at the radio station, so I snagged one to this concert.  Unfortunately, it came up on such short notice that I couldn’t round up anyone else to go with, so this was the first concert I ever attended alone.

John Cougar Mellencamp wanna-be Henry Lee Summer opened the show.  Like Mellencamp, Summer also hailed from Indiana, and to my surprise, he was actually rather tolerable in concert.  He managed to develop a good rapport with the audience and played a fairly spirited set, which he capped off with his big radio hit “I Wish I Had A Girl (Like That)”, complete with all its inherent “Check it out, Leroy”s—whoever the hell Leroy is.  HLS later joined Chicago onstage for a number during their set.  All in all, he wasn’t bad—especially for a Mellencamp wanna-be…
Chicago had been through numerous personnel changes since the death of guitarist Terry Kath in 1978.  Their sound also changed as they went from a jazz/rock outfit in the ‘70s to an adult contemporary group in the early ‘80s, with bassist Peter Cetera being the focal point, but at least they were still numbering their albums and were up to Chicago 18 on this tour.  Cetera got a big ego and struck out on his own for a solo career (with varying degrees of success), so they replaced him with the virtual sound-alike, Jason Scheff (son of musician Jerry Scheff from Elvis’ touring band).  Vocalist/keyboardist Bill Champlin joined the early ’80s, and guitarist Dawayne Bailey came on board in 1986.  Bailey had previously toured with Bob Seger, and had local ties, as he was born in Manhattan, KS and lived for a time in Bonner Springs—where the venue is located—so this show was a homecoming of sorts for him.

As for the show, Champlin traded lead vocals with Scheff and founding member/ keyboardist Robert Lamm throughout the night.  Scheff sounded like a dead ringer for Cetera on the old hits like “Saturday In The Park” and “25 Or 6 To 4”, the latter of which they restored to its proper original glory instead of the bastardized 1987 remake version they made.  One glaring omission from the set list was the classic “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day”, but I was surprised at the inclusion of “Dialogue (Parts I & II)” as well as the rather obscure “Free“ from Chicago III.  Although the focus was mostly on their ‘80s stuff (just like with the Moody Blues five nights earlier), Chicago’s famed horn section of James Pankow, Lee Loughnane and Walt Parazaider did get to show off the band’s signature sound now and then on songs like “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” and “Beginnings”.  Pankow, in particular, was rather animated as he played his trombone, using it as an extension of his manhood at times, you might say!  By the way, has anyone ever actually Parazaided before?!?  Did they live to tell about it?

The band Chicago is also rather infamous for affecting Kansas City weather—virtually every time they come town, it rains whenever they play outdoors!  I remember one time about ‘78 or ‘79 when they played at then-Royals Stadium with Santana, and a deluge of Biblical proportions ensued.  Well, sure as shit, about midway through Chicago’s set at Sandstone, it began to sprinkle, prompting Robert Lamm to incredulously ask, “Is it raining again?!?”  The crowd responded in the affirmative and he said in mock disgust, “Dammit! It always rains when we come here.”  I like it when a band remembers previous shows/tours they’ve done.  The rain was actually welcome on this night too, as we were smack dab in the middle of some serious drought conditions around these parts at the time.  In any event, this wasn’t a bad concert at all, especially for free.

SET LIST [In no particular order]:  Get Away/Hard Habit To Break/Heart In Pieces/Stay The Night/Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?/Just You 'N" Me/Beginnings/I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love/I Stand Up/25 Or 6 To 4 (1970 version)/Will You Still Love Me/Saturday In The Park/Dialogue (Parts I & II)/It's Alright/Free/Hard To Say I'm Sorry/I Can't Turn You Loose (w/Henry Lee Summer)

Oh by the way—would you believe we’re barely halfway through this little excursion?

1 comment:

JoMorningStar said...

I remember the concerts also.. attended most all of them from the 70s on.. esp liked it when Kiss played at Memorial Hall in kcks. and of course Gary Wright another time, and Head East.. awesome! I remember the mega rock concerts that lasted all day and into the night at arrowhead. and i really like working on the sound mixer that was awesome.. probably why my hearing is not so hot these days.. Josephine Morningstar