Saturday, July 19, 2008

Concert Trek - Episode 17

81) George Thorogood & The Destroyers/Wide Mouth Mason (Saturday, August 16, 1997—Beaumont Club) Ticket price: $18.50

The Beaumont Club in Kansas City’s Westport drinking district is easily the worst venue I’ve ever attended a big-time concert at.  It doubles as a Country & Western bar/nightclub, and serves neither purpose very well.  It’s your basic dive, the layout of the place is poor for concerts and I swear, my front porch (see above left) is bigger than the Beaumont’s stage!  My friend Tom and I were forced to stand at the top of the stairway which led to an auxiliary bar just to get a good vantage point.

The opening act, a trio named Wide Mouth Mason, started early and were quite good.  They played about 45 minutes’ worth of alterna-Rock and blues, and the guitarist and drummer were standouts, as I recall.  After a very brief set change, the strains of Barry McGuire’s “Eve of Destruction” played over the P.A., signaling that Lonesome George and the boys were about to begin, as they bounded onto the stage and opened with “Long Gone”.  It wasn’t long before some dillweed decided to stand right in front of me and Tom, blocking our view, in spite of our attempts to show the fucker that we were there first.  He and his underage girlfriends eventually moved elsewhere, but not before I nearly threw my hip and back out while trying to get comfortable along the stairway railing.

Anyway, Thorogood and Co. rocked the house, playing pretty much the same set as they did in ’95, only with some new tunes added from their latest CD, Rockin’ My Life Away.  The longer they played, the tighter they got, and the band was like a runaway freight train by show’s end.  Even though they were limited by Beaumont’s microscopic stage, George and crew managed to put on a fine show.  About the only disappointment was the total lack of Chuck Berry songs on the set list.  Oh well, still a dandy show in spite of it being such a crappy venue.

SET LIST:  Long Gone/Who Do You Love?/Get Back Into Rockin'/Night Time/I Drink Alone/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer/If You Don't Start Drinkin' (I'm Gonna Leave)/I'll Have The Usual/The Sky Is Crying/Get A Haircut/Howlin' For My Baby/Bad To The Bone/Gear Jammer/Move It On Over/What A Price/You Talk Too Much  ENCORE:  Rockin' My Life Away

82) The Rainmakers/Arthur Dodge (Friday, September 19, 1997—Liberty Hall, Lawrence, KS) Ticket price: $10.00

Kansas City’s Rainmakers were a band that I really came to love long after their initial break-up in the early ‘90s.  For more on the band, here’s my original blog tribute to them.  Once I finally embraced their music in the mid-‘90s, I was really fired up to finally see them live in concert, as they had a reputation as a top-flight live act.  They were heavily-promoted by Classic Rock station KY-102 during the band’s heyday from 1986-89, and their first three albums were pretty darn good stuff.  Strange irony that this concert took place the night after “the day the music died”, so to speak, as KY-102 was killed the day before by the soulless corporate radio suits and replaced by an equally-soulless Alternative Rock format.

Liberty Hall is an old movie theater on the famed Massachusetts St. strip in Lawrence near K.U. that was converted into an 800-seat (or so) concert hall, and it turned out to be a nifty place to see a show.  Our view was outstanding from the balcony, and the sound was plenty loud during the Rainmakers’ set.  The band had reformed a couple times in the ‘90s, and were touring in support of their new CD Skin with new bassist Michael Bliss replacing the departed Rich Ruth.  Opening with their biggest hit, “Let My People Go-Go”, the band was surprisingly animated on stage, particularly singer and leader Bob Walkenhorst.  I was surprised that they didn’t lean all that much on the new record, choosing instead to play nearly all of their first album and most of the second one, 1987’s Tornado.  In rolling through their old favorites, they did some altered arrangements on a few of them, like “Doomsville” and “Long Gone Long” from the first album, freshening them up with Steve Phillips’ excellent slide guitar work.  Drummer Pat Tomek was a solid timekeeper as well, and the band was very tight, as expected.

The song “Hoo-Dee-Hoo” from the Rainmakers’ third album The Good News And The Bad News was a highlight, as was “Reckoning Day” from that album, and the band closed the show with “Rockin’ At The T-Dance” following a couple encores and over two hours’ worth of music.  The only glaring omissions from the set list were “Tornado Of Love” and “Small Circles” from Tornado, and overall this was an outstanding concert.  The Rainmakers certainly came as advertised—a mighty fine live band.

The opening act was a band called Arthur Dodge, and they played your basic Alternative Rock clap-trap, and weren’t terribly good at it.  It didn’t help that the sound mix was murky and the vocals were drowned out most of the time.  My friend Phil said he recognized the lead singer as a guy he’d played drums with in a band many years before.   Small world…

SET LIST:  Let My People Go-Go/Different Rub/Wages Of Sin/Skin/Long Gone Long/Shiny Shiny/Information/No Romance/Did You See The Lightning/ Snakedance/Remember Me By/Window/Reddleman Coming/Hoo-Dee-Hoo/Hunger Moon/Lakeview Man/Reckoning Day/Million Miles Away/Eclipse Has Begun/Nobody Knows/ Downstream/I Talk With My Hands  ENCORES:  Good Sons & Daughters/Drinkin' On The Job/Daydream Believer/Doomsville/Rockin’ At The T-Dance

83) The Rainmakers/Jeff Black (Saturday, November 29, 1997—Beaumont Club) Ticket price: $12.00

As the Lynyrd Skynyrd lyric goes, “I’ve tried everything in my life—the things I like, I try ‘em twice…” and so it goes with The Rainmakers, as they played K.C. proper for the first time in ages just a couple months after their highly successful Lawrence gig.  Too bad it had to be at such a shitty venue.  At least we were able to actually sit in seats for this one, although people kept using the space in front of us as an aisle half the timebeaver biscuits!!

Tom and I were graced by yet another opening act performance by singer Jeff Black, whom we’d previously seen open for John Hiatt a couple years before.  Sad to report that Jeff hadn’t improved much from that first time, where he reminded me of a street singer playing for tips.  Picture the late Chris Farley with an acoustic guitar, and you get the idea.  His set was mercifully short, too.

Opening this time with "To The Hum", followed by “Let My People Go-Go”, the Rainmakers came on right at 8:00 and had the joint jumpin’ from the get-go (Go-Go?).  They made a few changes to the set list, adding “Another Guitar” from 1994’s Flirtin’ With The Universe, as well as a couple more songs from the new Skin album.  The band seemed to enjoy themselves, and Bob Walkenhorst was quite animated on stage once again, which seems to be his nature.  It was a very good show, indeed, but I enjoyed the Lawrence show more, which can be directly attributed to the venue and not the band.  When they played “Downstream”, the Rainmakers nearly brought the house down.  They returned for an encore featuring “Drinkin’ On The Job”, but were unable to finish with “Rockin’ At The T-Dance” because they ran long and had to quit so the club could let the regular redneck shit-stomper crowd in at 10:30.  To date, I haven’t set foot in the place since, either—the Beaumont Club sucks!

SET LIST:  To The Hum/Let My People Go-Go/Good Sons And Daughters/Different Rub/Wages Of Sin/Long Gone Long/ Skin/Shiny Shiny/Information/No Romance/Did You See the Lightning/ Snakedance/Remember Me By/Wilder Side/Reddleman Coming/Spend It On Love/Reckoning Day/Hunger Moon/Hoo-Dee-Hoo/Another Guitar/ Million Miles Away/Eclipse Has Begun/Nobody Knows/Downstream/I Talk With My Hands  ENCORES:  Doomsville/Drinkin' On The Job/Proud Mary

84) The Rainmakers (Saturday, April 16, 1998—Mill Creek Park) Ticket price: Free

I just couldn’t get enough of these guys during 1997-98, and this one was a freebie. It was also the one and only time I’ve attended a concert while on the clock at my workplace! 

At the time, I was working at St. Luke’s Hospital near the famed Country Club Plaza and was picking up some extra hours on the weekends reorganizing one of our file rooms in X-Ray.  The annual AIDS Walk event was being held right across the street in Mill Creek Park, with The Rainmakers headlining the post-walk concert.  Since I had no adult supervision (i.e., no managers were around), I snuck down the hill and enjoyed the proceedings for a couple hours, all the while making time-and-a-half!  Ain’t I a stinker?

A gay dance troupe performed on the stage when I arrived, and I spotted Rainmakers drummer Pat Tomek setting up his kit backstage.  In the crowd, I also spotted former KY-102 (and current 101-The Fox) DJ Skid Roadie roaming around the grounds.  The show was emceed by local gay legend Ron Megee, who is best-known as a female impersonator in numerous plays and such.  I couldn’t help but notice the similarity in his voice and that of Big Gay Al on TV’s “South Park”!  Eventually Bob Walkenhorst of the Rainmakers joined Megee on stage to help auction off some valuables for the charity, including an original copy of the pre-Rainmakers album Balls by Steve, Bob & Rich, along with some guitars and such.

The rest of the band joined Walkenhorst on stage eventually and they got down to business and played about an hour and 15 minutes.  They sounded pretty good, despite some equipment problems.  “Small Circles” returned to the set list, and the addition of “Width Of A Line” from Flirtin’ with The Universe was a nice touch.  The band was later joined on stage by members of another local favorite, Fool’s Face, and they played a spirited version of CCR’s “Proud Mary” to wrap things up.  While not nearly as good a show as the prior two, you just can’t beat free, so I got my money’s worth.  Hell, I was getting paid to watch this one, so who am I to bitch?!?

SET LIST:  Good Sons And Daughters/Let My People Go-Go/Different Rub/Wages Of Sin/ Small Circles/Width Of A Line/30 Days/Information/Skin/Long Gone Long/Nobody Knows/Downstream  ENCORE:  Proud Mary

85) Stevie Nicks/Boz Scaggs (Saturday, July 11, 1998—Sandstone Amphitheater) Ticket price: $21.50

My friend Tom is a huge Stevie Nicks fan, and since he had a birthday coming up in a couple weeks, I decided to treat him to a ticket to this show, even though I was more of a casual fan of hers at the time.  Over the years, her music has grown on me, and this turned out to be a fairly decent concert, too.

Tom and I arrived early enough to snag a pretty good spot in the lawn right down the center about a third of the way up.  Unfortunately, just prior to Boz Scaggs hitting the stage, this drunk, loud-mouthed bozo and his girlfriend decided to plunk down just to my right, despite it being a fairly small space between us.  This goomer was loud and rude most of the night, and he wondered aloud who this “Bob” Scaggs guy was.  A few minutes after that, a gaggle of dweeby Gen X-ers overtook a small plot of land just in front of us.  Most of them were drunk off their asses before the show even started, and none of them were even alive when “Lido Shuffle” or Rumours came out, which made me wonder what the bajeezus they were doing there in the first place.  The crowd (much larger than I anticipated) was a rowdier bunch than what I was expecting, filled with drunk rednecks more befitting of a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, sprinkled with lots of Stevie Nicks wanna-bes.

Bob—er, Boz Scaggs finally hit the stage and played a marginally interesting set of mostly jazz-tinged stuff, saving “Lido” and “Lowdown” for the end.  He reminded me a bit of John Hiatt, only without the edge or sense of humor.

A brief set change ensued while I guzzled my third over-priced beer, and Stevie Nicks made her entrance.  She looked pretty good for a woman of 50-something, and her band wasn’t too shabby, either.  It didn’t take her long to get to the good stuff with “Dreams” second on the set list, followed by “Enchanted”.  The sound mix sucked, as it always does at Sandstone, and Stevie’s vocals were barely audible at times.  She couldn’t hit those high notes anymore, but still managed to sing well when we were able to hear her.  Highlights of the show were definitely the Fleetwood tunes, as well as “Stand Back” and “Edge of Seventeen”, which closed the show. For an encore, she did Tom Petty’s “I Need To Know” (a favorite TP song of mine), and her version of it almost sounded better than his.  Speaking of Petty, I was surprised Stevie didn’t do “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”, as well as “Leather And Lace” and “Gypsy”, but it was a decent hour-and-45-minute set—she neither blew me away or disappointed me, and Tom seemed pleased, so all was well.


dr sardonicus said...

I got to see The Rainmakers open for Marshall Crenshaw at the Uptown back in '83. Agreed, they were a great band that deserved better.

When I saw Fleetwood Mac at the Kansas Coliseum ages ago, Stevie Nicks disappeared halfway through the set and didn't come back out until the show was almost over. The big surprise was during the encore - Warren Zevon joined them for "Go Your Own Way". Everybody was wondering what he was doing in Wichita (those of us who knew who he was, anyway...)

Ken Dillon said...

GREAT stuff on the Rainmakers, Brian...we played the CRAP out of 'em when the old days of KLRQ were happening in Clinton, and I still keep in touch with Bob Walkenhorst today. He's still writing, and playing well.

Thanks for some cool memories!