86) John Entwistle/Bob Harvey Band (Friday, October 8, 1998—Roadhouse Ruby’s) Ticket price: $12.00
I nearly leapt out of my chair at work the day I read in the paper that John Entwistle and his band were coming to town in the fall of ‘98. I was even more delighted when I found out the tickets for this show were only 12 bucks! Little did I know at the time that I would actually get to meet the man himself, too…
My friend Tom and I arrived at Roadhouse Ruby’s (formerly known as Guitars & Cadillacs) in suburban Olathe early enough to snag a table directly in front of the stage about halfway back, and it was a great vantage point. A local outfit called the Bob Harvey Band opened the show, and they were fairly tolerable. They did a couple C.C.R. covers that sounded pretty decent, anyway.
Long about 9:30, The Ox and his crew ambled onto the stage and opened with The Who’s “The Real Me” with guitarist Godfrey Townsend (no relation to Pete) on vocals. G. Townsend reminded me of one those stereotypical over-the-hill Rock stars portrayed in the movies, and although he was a competent guitar player, he was a barely-serviceable singer. The show was plenty loud, but the sound mix was terrible, and Entwistle’s bass was hard to pick out from the rest of the cacophony of noise. The set list was a mix of John’s Who classics and favorites from his underrated solo career, including “My Size”, “Success Story”, “Had Enough” and “Trick Of The Light”, with The Ox singing about half of them and Townsend singing the rest. A surprise inclusion was Roger Daltrey’s 1985 solo tribute to Keith Moon “Under A Raging Moon” featuring drummer Steve Luongo and “a drum solo almost as long as a Winston 100 cigarette,” as John quipped.
About midway through the show, I had the temerity to wander up by stage right in front of the speakers, and man, did I feel the power of the mighty Thunderfingers. I was a mere seven feet away from The Ox and got to watch those famous fingers work their magic up close—a major thrill for me! Meantime, at the stroke of Midnight as October 9th dawned, it was officially John’s 54th birthday, so the rest of the band led us all in singing “Happy Birthday To You” and presented the man with a pornographic b-day card. The show wrapped up a little while later with the Who classic “Young Man Blues”, and I was a bit disappointed at two glaring omissions: “The Quiet One” from Face Dances and even more surprisingly, John didn’t play “Boris The Spider”. Still, for a taste of this show, I highly recommend John’s Left For Live—Deluxe Edition CD, featuring highlights from this tour, during which Entwistle nearly went bankrupt, even though he insisted on doing it because he wanted to get out and play for the people. Dude, I would’ve gladly paid more than $12—he could’ve easily charged $20-25 a ticket and gotten it.
To be honest, overall this was a rather so-so concert, buuuuut…after the show, Tom and I hung around by the back door near the stage in hopes of meeting The Ox. The roadies eventually re-directed us outside and had us “get in queue” out by the (“Magic”?) tour bus behind the strip mall where John was already signing autographs, and eventually I found myself standing toe-to-toe with one of my idols! I wisely had the forethought to bring along my CD insert sleeve from The Who By Numbers featuring John’s famous cover drawing for him to sign. He didn’t say much while he was signing everyone’s stuff, as there was some annoying groupie chick off to the right babbling away and distracting him the whole time. I wanted to shake John’s hand, but since that’s where his pen was, I settled for patting him on the right shoulder and said, “Happy birthday, sir!” and he thanked me. Not terribly original of me, but at least I didn’t say something stupid. Fuckin-A, I met The Ox! To date, this was my greatest brush with greatness ever on earth in this hemisphere.
SET LIST: The Real Me/My Size/Sometimes/Success Story/Trick Of The Light/Had Enough/Endless Vacation/Too Late The Hero/Shakin’ All Over/905/Darker Side Of Night/Under A Raging Moon/Heaven And Hell ENCORES: My Wife/Young Man Blues
87) Kiss/Econoline Crush (Tuesday, December 16, 1998—Omaha Civic Auditorium) Ticket price: $30.00
The Psycho Circus tour was a somewhat half-hearted affair, as Kiss only played a couple dozen shows on it, and the closest they came to K.C. was the former home of the Kansas City-Omaha Kings, the Civic Auditorium, so this wound up being my first concert outside of the states of Missouri and Kansas. Since it was almost wintertime, I was reluctant to buy a ticket in advance in case there was a snowstorm that night, but fortunately the weather was bright and clear—although a tad frigid—for my three-hour drive up I-29. When I arrived at the concert at 6:00, I was surprised to find a zillion people lined up around the arena. After I parked the car, I was accosted by a ticket scalper and he said the tickets were $35 face-value, but he offered me one for 30, so I snagged it, even though I normally don’t condone patronizing these schmucks. That’s when I learned that the show was General Admission. G.A. seating for Kiss?!? Didn’t those Who and AC/DC concert tragedies teach us anything? Oh well, no harm no foul, I guess, since there were no fatalities, although the Kiss Alive Forever book mentions that Paul Stanley pleaded early on in the show with the fans in the front row to give some room to a small child whom he thought was being crushed, and they eventually handed the kid over the barricade to safety, but I don’t recall that incident. As it turned out, I managed to literally have a whole row myself near the top of the building, as I found a nice little one-seater that suited me fine.
I do recall that three lines into Kiss’ opening number, “Psycho Circus”, Stanley’s microphone crapped out on him and he had to borrow Gene’s for a while. Their new replica Destroyer costumes looked great, and the new stage was kinda cool, especially Peter Criss’ new drum riser that when lifted skyward during his solo had nothing but air below it, as it was suspended from above by chains. And this time we had not one, but two light-up Kiss logos adorning the stage. The other new wrinkle for this tour was the 3-D effects on the video screens, which when viewed through the cheesy 3-D glasses that were given away at the doors, made the band’s guitars, drum sticks, tongues, etc., appear to be coming right at you (to varying degrees of success).
The album Psycho Circus was the first (and most likely the only) one featuring the entire original lineup on it since the ‘70s, at least by outward appearances. Turns out that Criss only played on the track he sang on, as was the case with Ace Frehley, and the rest of the album was Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and session musicians. Not surprisingly, Kiss only performed three songs from it—the title track, Ace’s “Into The Void” (including his extended solo) and Simmons’ “Within”, the latter of which sounded like crap live because Gene couldn’t hack recreating his original high-end vocals. During Ace’s solo, I could see Gene through my binoculars next to the stairway below stage right touching up his make-up before returning to the stage. I also spotted the cup where he drinks his fake blood from too. The rest of the show was vintage Kiss and I could even feel the heat from the pyro during “100,000 Years” from all the way up top. Ace also added a new little whirly-gig firework gizmo on the head stock of his light-up guitar that shot sparks during his “Rock And Roll All Nite” solo.
Since I had to piss near the end of the show, I decided to take in the encores from floor level in the back while Peter sang “Beth”—I wish they’d actually play this one on guitar instead of always having Peter singing along to the backing track. “Detroit Rock City” followed, as did “Black Diamond” and the confetti storm thereof. While not quite as good as the Kiss shows I saw on the 1996-97 Reunion Tour, this was still well worth the little road trip to Omaha. I was looking forward to catching a couple more shows on the Psycho Circus tour, but there weren’t any more around these parts after this one.
As usual, Kiss brought along a good support act, and Econoline Crush put on a very energetic opening set. They were kind of a cross between Alice In Chains and The Cult, and I was impressed enough with them that I bought their debut CD a little while after that. Unlike most of the the young bands that were hot at that time, EC actually appeared to be enjoying themselves while playing on-stage. Too bad the band never went anywhere after that…
SET LIST: Psycho Circus/Shout It Out Loud/Deuce/Do You Love Me/Firehouse/Shock Me/Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll/Calling Dr. Love/Into The Void/King Of The Night Time World/God Of Thunder/Within/Peter Criss drum solo/Cold Gin/Love Gun/100,000 Years/Rock And Roll All Nite ENCORES: Beth/Detroit Rock City/Black Diamond
88) Ted Nugent/Night Ranger/Quiet Riot/Slaughter (Friday, July 23, 1999—Sandstone Amphitheater) Ticket price: Free
We weren’t even planning to attend this concert, but a co-worker of mine managed to win two free tickets earlier in the week via some contest at a nearby bar, and he was good enough to offer them to me since he really wasn’t into Nugent or any of the other bands. And since you can’t beat free, and since it was Tom’s birthday too, we went.
Tom and I arrived just as Slaughter was finishing their encore “Up All Night”. I don’t think we missed much anyway. We were planning to rent a couple chairs for the lawn when one of the ushers advised us that since the show was nowhere near sold-out, we could sit in the back section of seats if we wanted, so we snagged a couple good ones right smack in the center. Quiet Riot came out a little while later and played a brief, but spirited set. I so wanted to walk up to singer Kevin DuBrow and (in my best Chandler Bing voice) say, “Could your wig BE any more obvious?” (see pic). QR only played five songs, but it was a good and tight set, and the crowd seemed to enjoy them. Alas, as usual at Sandstone, the sound was abysmal—way too much bass and drums—and it would not get any better the rest of the night.
SET LIST: Sign Of The Times/Slick Black Cadillac/Mama Weer All Crazee Now/Cum On Feel The Noize/Metal Health
During the set change, while Tom was making a beer run, a fight broke out right in front of where we were sitting between two stupid drunk fucks who just had to be all macho for our entertainment. In fact, we were surrounded by all sorts of morons, and I swear, Tom and I were the only two people in the place without tattoos! Night Ranger came on a bit later and played a fairly enthusiastic set. I was never a big fan of theirs back in the ‘80s, but they acquitted themselves quite well live, and like Quiet Riot, the crowd seemed to dig them.
SET LIST: Touch Of Madness/Rumors In The Air/Sing Me Away/Four In The Morning (I Can’t Take Any More)/Sentimental Street/When You Close Your Eyes/Coming Of Age/Don’t Tell Me You Love Me ENCORES: Sister Christian/Rock In America
It had been 20 years and one month (almost to the day) when my personal concert odyssey began with Ted Nugent at Arrowhead Stadium in 1979, and almost 17 years since the last time I’d seen him in concert and a lot had changed. Ted apparently decided he no longer needed a second guitarist/vocalist, choosing to do all the singing himself (bad idea). Nugent was now down to a three-piece band, which included a familiar face, one Tommy Aldridge (formerly of Black Oak Arkansas, Pat Travers, Ozzy Osbourne and Whitesnake) on the drums, as well as a bass player I didn’t recognize. Also unlike the Nugent of yore, this show wasn’t very loud. I could remember a time when the Nuge was determined to make one’s ears bleed at his concerts, but this almost made the New Christy Minstrels sound like Motorhead! Opening with a very flat version of “Yank Me, Crank Me” and wearing a headset microphone, Terrible Ted just wandered aimlessly around the stage and played, and the usually frenetic “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” was rendered utterly lifeless on this night. The set did include a couple surprises, like “Snakeskin Cowboys” and his ode to thrill-seeking hunters, “Fred Bear”, which Ted augmented with a cute little campfire at center stage—never mind that it was already 95 degrees out! I’m surprised he also didn’t lead us all in a few choruses of “Kumbaya” (sp?).
Ted’s usually-humorous macho-bravado between-song patter was strangely subdued too, and thanks to the murky sound, I couldn’t make out what he was saying half the time, anyway. Sadly, the beginning of the end of Ted’s tenure as one of my idols took place when he introduced “Kiss My Ass” by going off on one of his now-infamous bigoted “Get the fuck out of America if you can’t speak English” rants. Don’t get me wrong—I love the song “Kiss My Ass”, and I merely replace the liberals in Ted’s little roll call at the end with the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, et al—but I do not attend Rock ‘N’ Roll concerts to listen to political diatribes. Unfortunately, Nugent is totally unrepentant about this, and in fact, has gotten even more militant as time has passed. The Motor City Madman was no longer talking to me through his guitar, but from out of his ass.
“Cat Scratch Fever” ended the set, with Ted pulling off his usual shtick of shooting a flaming arrow at a defenseless (decoy) guitar from 15 paces—a shot that even I could make. He launched into “Great White Buffalo” for the encore, but Tom and I had seen enough and headed up the hill to leave, and naturally as we did, the sound suddenly got better. I never dreamed I’d see the day when I’d ever leave a Ted Nugent concert before it was over, but the times had changed. If I’d paid to see this concert, I’d have been pissed, and even for free, it was just barely okay, at best. Even after 20 some-odd years, Kiss was still able to kick my ass in concert. Ted Nugent failed miserably at it. How the mighty had fallen…
SET LIST: Yank Me, Crank Me/Free-For-All/Dog Eat Dog/Snakeskin Cowboys/Kiss My Ass/Paralyzed/Wang Dang Sweet Poontang/Fred Bear/Stranglehold/Cat Scratch Fever ENCORE: Great White Buffalo
89) Joe Walsh (Saturday, July 24, 1999—Kauffman Stadium) Ticket price: Free
Royals/Kauffman Stadium hosted several big-time mega-concerts back in the ‘70s like Nugent, Chicago, Santana, Steve Miller Band, Peter Frampton, et al, but I never got to see any shows there, as by the time I became a concert-goer, all the big shows were staged across the parking lot at Arrowhead, so this was a first for me. So was sitting through a crappy baseball game first to see a concert, as the Royals were pummeled by the Oakland A’s 12-2 prior to the free post-game concert by Joe Walsh. I attended the show with a female friend who drove up with her new husband from Joe’s hometown of Wichita, and it was a bit of an awkward evening as neither of them were very talkative—jeez, I hate being the third wheel!!
It only took about 30 minutes following the game for the roadies to set up the makeshift stage, and the sound quality—although somewhat lacking—was still far superior to what Tom and I heard the night before. Ever the silly one, Joe came on stage and immediately donned one of those fluorescent orange windbreakers the highway workers wear, and claimed “I’m cold!” even though it was hotter than blazes out, and he left the thing on all night! Although it was a bit odd having the stadium lights on throughout the show, Joe made the best of it and turned in a surprisingly decent set of hits, including his old James Gang classics “Funk #49” and “Walk Away”, along with more recent stuff like “The Confessor” and “Ordinary Average Guy”. He saved his biggies for last of course, ending the show with “Life’s Been Good” followed by “Rocky Mountain Way” for the encore. One song I was shocked he didn’t do was “All Night Long” (from Urban Cowboy), but I never much liked that one anyway. One I knew he wouldn’t do, but secretly hoped for was “I.L.B.T.’s” (as in “I Like Big Tits”) from 1983. Can’t have everything, I guess. All things considered, this wasn’t a bad little show, and an improvement over the one I saw the night before. As Joe often says, “How ya DOIN’?”
90) Chicago/The Doobie Brothers (Sunday, August 8, 1999—Sandstone Amphitheater) Ticket price: Free
Damn, three free concerts in a row! This time it was yours truly who won the freebies on the radio on 101-The Fox for knowing what year Supertramp's Famous Last Words... came out (1982). This marked the second time I’d seen Chicago in concert without paying a dime to do so. These weren’t even lawn tickets for free—these were actual seats, and they were surprisingly good, too.
Since this was a co-headlining tour, we didn’t know until showtime who would open up, and it turned out to be the Brothers Doobie who played first. They opened with a song I wasn’t familiar with, then kicked it into gear with “Rockin’ Down The Highway”. To my surprise, there was no Michael McDonald to be found on stage, and guitarist Pat Simmons later explained that “he's sick—of us!” I’m not so sure he was kidding, either. Just as well, because apart from “Takin’ It To The Streets” (which Simmons sang in McDonald’s place) and “It Keeps You Runnin’”, I never much cared for the wimpy jazz/fusion-esque Michael McDonald-era Doobies, and much preferred the old-school real Rock ‘N’ Roll Tom Johnston-era Doobies, which is what we got on this night. Johnston looked healthy, sang enthusiastically and sounded great. The rest of the band included guitarist John McFee, drummers Keith Knudsen and Michael Hossack, a lanky bassist named Skylark, and a sax player named Mike Russo who emerged every so often from the shadows. Even more surprising, the sound was pretty good, especially once the band got cooking. They covered their big hits, as expected, plus they added a new song called “Can’t Stand To Lose” which wasn’t half-bad. “China Grove” and “Listen To The Music” were the encores, during which a couple of the Chicago guys joined the Doobs on stage and sang along. Overall, a very nice 90-minute set.
SET LIST: Don’t Believe A Word/Rockin’ Down The Highway/Dangerous/Jesus Is Just Alright/Slat Key Soquel Rag/Can’t Stand To Lose/Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me)/The Doctor/Takin’ It To The Streets/Little Bitty Pretty One/Black Water/Long Train Runnin’ ENCORES: China Grove/Listen To The Music
Chicago opened with a couple tunes they didn’t play when I saw them in ’88, namely “Make Me Smile”, “Colour My World” and "Old Days". They started off a little flat, but righted the ship eventually by about the fourth song. They made my night by playing two other omissions from ’88, “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long” and "Feelin' Stronger Every Day", both sung by Jason Scheff, who had long ago replaced Peter Cetera, and is almost a dead-ringer for him, vocally. The band was still tight, with Robert Lamm on one keyboard, Bill Champlin on another, guitarist Keith Howland and drummer Tris Imboden. But it was the horn section that stole the show, as usual. Trombonist James Pankow was especially animated, using his instrument as a sort of extension of his manhood, you might say, while saxophonist Walt Parazaider and trumpeter Lee Loughnane traded solos throughout the show, and all three sounded great.
After running through most of their big hits, Chicago threw in a zinger. “We’ve been in a blast furnace all summer, so just use your imagination here,” Pankow announced, before they launched into a riotous rendition of “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”, complete with light-up snowman, fake snow falling from above the stage, and a corpulent roadie posing as an elf. Come to find out later that Chicago had a Christmas CD due out soon, hence the yuletide frivolity. While introducing the band members, Robert Lamm remarked how nice the weather was here for a change, and added, “I remember doing the backstroke here last year,” during the usual heavy rains Chicago brings to Kansas City whenever they play outdoors. They wrapped the show up with rousing version of “25 Or 6 To 4”, and for once, it didn’t rain a drop during an outdoor Chicago concert in Kansas City! An outstanding concert all the way around, too.
SET LIST: Make Me Smile/Colour My World/Make Me Smile (Reprise)/(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long/Free/Hard Habit To Break/Call On Me/Old Days/Look Away/Feelin’ Stronger Every Day/Saturday In The Park/Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow/Just You ‘N’ Me/ Beginnings/Hard To Say I’m Sorry/Get Away/Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?/I’m A Man ENCORES: In The Mood/25 Or 6 To 4