It's been a while, but it's time to resume my recollections of the many concerts I have attended throughout the years...
51) Ray Stevens/Butch Baker (Saturday, November 5, 1988—St. Joseph Civic Arena) Ticket price: Free
Being that the metropolis known as St. Joseph, MO is located a mere 50 miles away from the even bigger metropolis known as Kansas City, MO, Joetown basically had to settle for table scraps when it came to attracting big-name acts for concerts. I don’t mean to denigrate Mr. Stevens, here—he’s always been a favorite of mine when it comes to comedy records—but this was one of the few major concerts staged in St. Joseph during the 13 months that I worked there at the radio station, and we naturally promoted the hell out of it. It was also one of the rare times that I got to meet the headliner afterwards, and the only time that I actually have photographic proof of it!
Brother Ray and his entire band must’ve thought it was St. Patrick’s Day, as they were all decked out in green leisure suits throughout their set, which covered all the bases of Ray’s career, from serious songs like “Everything Is Beautiful” to his comedic classics like “The Streak”, “Ahab The Arab” and “Guitarzan”. The highlight for me was his 1987 song “Sex Symbols”, during which he performed with a ventriloquist dummy on a bar stool dressed as Julio Iglesias, with whom Ray “duetted”. It was a good show, overall, but disappointingly short, though.
As for this photo, between the two of us, Ray and I surely would’ve qualified to appear on an episode of “What Not To Wear”! I’ll just plead insanity with my choice of wardrobe here—as much as I loved those old rainbow Astros uni’s, it probably wasn’t the best choice on that night. Anywhoo, I even managed to engage Ray in conversation, as it just so happens that I went to high school with the daughter of songwriter C.W. Kalb, who wrote Ray’s hit song “Mississippi Squirrel Revival” (as well as “Sex Symbols”). Mr. Stevens was most accommodating in signing autographs and taking photos with everyone, and I came away very impressed with him.
The opening act was an up-and-coming Country singer named Butch Baker, whom we plugged pretty heavily on our FM station at the time. I also met him after the show and had my pic taken with him, and I’m sorry to say I don’t remember a damn thing about his act, but he seemed like a very nice guy.
52) The Who (Sunday, August 8, 1989—Arrowhead Stadium) Ticket price: $22.50
This concert was one of the few highlights for me during the dismal summer of ‘89, during which I was unemployed for five months after I left the radio station in St. Joseph, even though Pete Townshend now deems that tour “The Who on ice”, after seven years of dormancy following the 1982 “Farewell Tour”.
This was the tour for which The Who was augmented by several other musicians, including drummer Simon Phillips, who was a major upgrade over Kenny Jones on the skins. They also recruited guitarist Steve “Boltz” Bolton on electric guitar, as Pete’s hearing problems at the time relegated him to playing acoustic guitar for most of the show. To me, acoustic guitar is the equivalent of black-and-white TV, as opposed to electric guitar’s color, so it almost seemed as if Townshend was handicapped for this tour.
No opening act for this one, and The Who got right down to business by opening with about 30 minutes’ worth of Tommy. After a brief pause, the show resumed with three Townshend solo tunes, then Roger Daltrey returned with a guitar to perform the old Bo Diddley tune “I’m A Man”, but his guitar was malfunctioning, so he chucked it to the floor in frustration. The show finally kicked into gear with “I Can’t Explain”, and it was smooth sailing from there. The stage was swarmed by moths throughout the night, which prompted bassist John Entwistle to remark, “From ticks in the night, we go to ‘Trick Of The Light’” as he intro-ed his very underrated song from Who Are You. The Ox was beginning to resemble a college professor at this point, but there was no questioning his prowess on the bass.
“My Generation” was a surprise on the set list, as Townshend had pretty much sworn off playing that song on the ‘82 tour, as was “Join Together”, a somewhat-forgotten Who classic. “I Can See For Miles” was also dusted off and performed by The Who for the first time in ages on this tour, and it came off quite well. For a band that was “on ice”, they still seemed fresh and viable, even with all the extra (and superfluous) musicians. To date, this is the last time The Who (as a group) ever set foot in Kansas City. Y’all come back, now, hear?!?
SET LIST: Overture/1921/It’s A Boy/Amazing Journey/Sparks/The Acid Queen/Pinball Wizard/See Me, Feel Me/We’re Not Gonna Take It/Secondhand Love/Let My Love Open The Door/Face The Face/I’m A Man/I Can’t Explain/Substitute/I Can See For Miles/Trick Of The Light/Boris The Spider/ Who Are You/Magic Bus/Baba O'Riley/My Generation/A Little Is Enough/5:15/Love, Reign O'er Me/Sister Disco/Rough Boys/Join Together/You Better You Bet/Behind Blue Eyes/Won’t Get Fooled Again ENCORES: Eminence Front/Hey Joe/Twist And Shout
53) Kiss/Faster Pussycat/Slaughter (Saturday, May 12, 1990—Sandstone Amphitheater) Ticket price: $18.00
In a strange bit of strategy, the Hottest Band In The World set out on tour a good seven months after the release of their latest album, Hot In The Shade, which came out in September, 1989. It all worked out anyway, as this was considered by most Kiss fans as one of their best tours of the decade, as the band focused their set list on more of their ‘70s stuff and barely even touched their new album—only two songs from Shade were performed.
This was also the first time Kiss had ever toured without their trademark light-up Kiss logo—at least to start the show, anyway. In its place, the band emerged from the mouth of a mock-up of the Egyptian sphinx from the album cover—nicknamed “Leon Sphinx”—complete with a cool lazer show. A small Kiss logo eventually did appear near show’s end, but meantime, the band played for well over two hours, and the old stuff sounded just as sweet with drummer Eric Carr and guitarist Bruce Kulick in place of Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. Little did any of us know that this would be the last time we’d see Eric Carr in concert before his tragic death a year and a half later. R.I.P., Little Caesar…
My friend Tom and I arrived just as up-and-comers Slaughter were performing their signature song “Fly To The Angels”, so I can’t really comment on their act. Same goes for Faster Pussycat, mostly because I don’t remember anything about them. Perhaps this is because I was distracted by the couple off to our right that was fornicating right there on the lawn at Sandstone. Too bad we didn’t have cell phone cameras in 1990, eh?
SET LIST: I Stole Your Love/Deuce/Heaven's On Fire/Rise To It/Fits Like A Glove/Crazy Crazy Nights/Strutter/ Calling Dr. Love/Hide Your Heart/Black Diamond/Shout It Out Loud/Lick It Up/Cold Gin/Forever/God Of Thunder/Tears Are Falling/Under The Gun/I Love It Loud/Love Gun/Detroit Rock City ENCORES: I Want You/Rock And Roll All Nite
54) Z.Z. Top/Jeff Healey Band (Sunday, December 16, 1990—Kemper Arena) Ticket price: $20.00and
55) Z.Z. Top/Extreme (Friday, August 16, 1991—Sandstone Amphitheater) Ticket price: $22.50
That Little ‘Ol Band From Texas took about four years off between Afterburner and Recycler, the latter of which was the last really decent album they’ve made to date, and even it was only about partially satisfying. But to my surprise, the accompanying tour for Recycler was one of the better shows I’ve seen ZZ put on. The stage was a re-creation of the album cover from Recycler, set in a junk yard, and it included a few new wrinkles, like conveyer belts on the stage floor which made Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons appear to be walking in place. Then at one point in the show, a giant trash compactor comes along and collects Billy and Dusty and appears to drop them into a dumpster at the rear of the stage, only to reappear at the other side of the stage, fully intact.
The show rocked from start to finish, in spite of the inclusion of too many lame songs from Recycler like “Tell It”, “Concrete And Steel” and “Lovething”. ZZ did perform two really standout tracks from that album, “Give It Up” and “My Head’s In Mississippi”, but omitted the hilarious “Burger Man”. At the Kemper show, Billy Gibbons dedicated “Blue Jean Blues” to opening act Jeff Healey and commented, “He’s somethin’ else…” Jeff was indeed something else during his opening set, which was highlighted by his cover version of John Hiatt’s “Angel Eyes”. At one point, Healey got to rocking out on one song and abruptly leapt out of his chair and started jumping around awkwardly, which prompted my friend Tom to ask why he danced around so weirdly. “Uhhh, the man’s blind, dummy!” I had to explain…
I liked that Kemper show so much that I took Z.Z. Top in again nine months later when they blew through again at Sandstone with opening act Extreme, who were riding high on the success of their second album, Pornograffiti, and the hit singles “More Than Words” and “Hole-Hearted”. Extreme put on an excellent opening set, and ZZ was quite good again, although they couldn’t use quite all of their bells and whistles this time because of Sandstone’s rinky-dink stage. I was also a tad disappointed that ZZ’s set list had not changed one iota since December, and they played the exact same songs in order as the Kemper show. Still, both shows were vintage Z.Z. Top, and you can’t sneeze at that.
SET LIST: Planet Of Women/Sleeping Bag/Tell It/Waitin' For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago/Ten Foot Pole/Gimme All Your Lovin'/Concrete And Steel/My Head's In Mississippi/Manic Mechanic/Heard It On The X/2000 Blues/Blue Jean Blues/Just Got Paid/Lovething/Got Me Under Pressure/Sharp Dressed Man/Give It Up/Legs ENCORES: Tube Snake Boogie/La Grange/Tush