Friday, July 27, 2007

Dino Rocker Roll Call

In my thirty years of concert going, I’ve seen a lot of good acts and plenty of bad ones. One trend I notice accelerating as I grow older is that the bands I go see are getting older too. Rock music is over fifty years old, so it’s only natural that the players as well as the fans age. While rock isn’t dead (despite what I’ve claimed in the past) it sure is ready for AARP membership.

It seems I value experience over promise. One big factor in seeing established artists is that they have a proven track record. An older artist is a known quantity. Newer bands not only don’t have a very deep catalog, you don’t know how well they play live.

My recent Police show made me think back on some of the highlights and lowpoints of the geriatric rockers I have seen. I’ve left out some bands that are still active like U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Sting that are still recording seriously, but they all qualify on some level as well. (Years are approximate. My memory isn’t improving any with age.)

1983 – Simon and Garfunkel. After the success of their Central Park concert, these 60s folkies decided to cash in with a tour. They played a rare date at Grant Field on the Georgia Tech campus. Tickets went for the then unheard of sum of twenty dollars. I think for their latest trip to the cash register, top seats went for over $300. In retrospect, I got a good value. The show itself was spectacular if a little understated. Neither Paul nor Art strayed more than five feet from their mics on opposite sides of the stage all night. But the harmonies were razor sharp and the tunes were all timeless. It was also the first show I ever went to with a serious video screen, even if the clunky 80s technology put the show an hour late.

1988 – Tina Turner. Tina made a great comeback in the 80s and when she played the SunDome in Tampa a bunch of us went to pay our respects. Unfortunately, our seats were obstructed view and I saw little of her above the knees all night. She has great legs, but the lack of visuals ruined the show for me.

1989 – Rolling Stones. The Steel Wheels tour was nominally to support their album of the same name, but only two cuts from that record made the set list, and I doubt anyone can remember what they were. The Stones truly are one of the greatest bands in rock history and they put on a great stage show. Not afraid to dip into some of their more obscure stuff, numbers like “2000 Light Years from Home” really lit up the night. The Glimmer Twins may be old, but they know how to bring the magic.

1994 – The Eagles. Previously, the last time The Eagles played Florida it was in 1979 at Tampa Stadium and I envied all the older high school kids that went. The Hell Freezes Over Tour was a clearly a soak-the-fans attempt and ticket prices reflected it. This tour began the current wave of monster reunion shows aimed at fat walleted baby boomers. I was undeterred. The wife and I drove to Orlando and back from West Palm Beach and were not disappointed. Their part of the show lasted nearly three hours and included a lot of solo material. I would have wanted to been in on the negotiations where Joe Walsh demanded as many songs as Don Henley.

2001 – Elton John. Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia can’t compete with the larger Nissan Pavilion for the hot tours, which leaves it booking a lot of bands either on the way up or the way down. I remember from my younger days Elton playing arenas and stadiums at will. To see him at an outdoor amphitheater is a great bargain. Elton himself was a little lackluster, but with his catalog, who can complain. The band he was touring with was outstanding. The drummer in particular was an older bald dynamo that stole the stage during much of the show.

2002 – Rod Stewart. Another giant from my youth, Rod the God has lived the history of rock. This tour for no reason in particular (except maybe for child support money) was before he turned himself into a big band artist. He played all his solo hits and a lot of numbers from earlier groups he was in like Jeff Beck and The Faces. He even gave some self-deprecating stage patter about his early days. I was reluctant to even go to the show, but the price for lawn seats was right, and I am glad I did.

2003 – B-52s, Go-Gos, Psychedelic Furs. Strictly a nostalgia show, this tour brought back a lot of 80s memories. Like any out-of-touch dad, I dragged my pre-teen son to the concert to expose him to how good music was made back in the day.

2004 – Joan Jett.
Not all past-their-prime rockers get to play stadiums or even amphitheaters. Joan was playing the DC National Barbeque Contest on Pennsylvania Avenue. I timed our trip to catch her show, the closing act of the afternoon on the Target Entertainment Stage. She played like rock was all she ever lived for. And it showed.

2006 – Crystal Gayle. The Rams Head in Annapolis is the greatest place to see music. I had had a crush on Crystal and her knee length hair for nearly thirty years. She isn’t the scrawny thing she once was, but she still has the hair and the pipes. Older dosn't always mean worse.

In the end, it is all about the music. Good musicians should play for as long as they can. Because there will always people that want to hear them. I will rock until I am old and gray. The musicians I like already are.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: What’s the most over-the-hill artist you have seen?


Anonymous said...

Wow, I realized reading this that I've seen a lot of over-the-hill rockers and I haven't been to a concert in at least 15 years!

The Beach Boys used to give a concert after a Padres game every year and I went to a lot of those. They were usually pretty good, lots of energy. OTOH, I saw Carl Wilson open for America and he was terrible.

I saw America at the Hollywood Amphitheater in 1983 and they gave a very workman-like performance of their greatest hits. That may have been the tour where the tape broke, creating something of a scandal.

Also in 1983, I saw the original Animals with Eric Burdon at the Universal Amphitheater. That was good show. Burdon wasn't as mobile as he used to be (in contrast to Mick even today), no more "long-haired, leaping gnome".

Sometime in the mid-eighties, my wife saw Donovan at the Ludwigshafen, Germany folk club. She says he was a complete zombie. His people led him onto the stage, shoved a guitar in his hand, and he sang his hits exactly like the are on his records. Then they led him away again. The only time he showed any life was during Mellow Yellow. Sad.

Sue T. said...

I saw Frank Sinatra on his last tour. By then he was using a TelePrompTer throughout. Still kind of glad I saw him, though.

Anonymous said...

The last concert I went to was Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.

I kid you not.

That said, you spoke of Rod Stewart. Last time he came through Edmonton, a lady who was in a rush to get to the show, went through a red light, and hit my kids car in the intersection. No injuries, but I am still waiting for the insurance pay-out. That is minor though.

The Ford World Men's Curling Championship was in Edmonton this past February, and at the top of the stairs in our section, was a photo of Rod Stewart circa 1980 something. He wore a nice jacket, jaguar spotted tights. Everytime I wantd a coffee I had to go past the thing. It was awful, and I think Rod still owes me for the anguish.

I should probably sue, but well, I'm Canadian. I don't think they let us.


The Mistress of the Dark said...

The Moody Blues and they still rocked rather nicely. Were still quite easy on the eyes too.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I have seen lots of over the hill bands, because I am, well, over the hill. Saw Rod Stewart in 1971 in DC - he and Ron Wood were amazing. Saw the Moody Blues in about 1990 or so - the first rock concert I had been to in a long while, and they were very, very good. Oh, some incarnation of Jefferson Starship opened for them - I enjoyed them, even thought the Gracie Slick stand-in was really her for awhile- ha! (I was thinking, wow, she looks really young...) 2005 was my best concert year ever - Dylan (Merle Haggard opened), Arlo Guthrie, U2, Paul McCartney! And I see Leon Russell every chance I get. He puts on a great show, plays small venues so the prices are reasonable, and he has good musicians in his band.


yellojkt said...

Seeing Rod Stewart in 1971 counts as catching him in his prime. And that 2005 line-up was awesome.

I had no idea the Moody Blues were considered hotties.

Mooselet said...

I haven't seen a concert in ages, unless you count the Wiggles show we took Her Majesty to a couple of years ago. Not that I don't want to, but I refuse to pay $100-$300 per ticket for the bands I like to see.

I do remember seeing Meatloaf perform at an Expo in Boston back in 1985-ish before he was popular again in the 90s, does that count?

Anonymous said...

Against my better judgement, I went to see The Who a few years ago -- long after, in my opinion, their use-by date was up. How wrong I was. The boys rocked. Entwistle died shortly thereafter, so I was glad I caught them when I did. Part of my hesitation was that, to me, Keith Moon was a far bigger part of The Who's sound than any drummer had a right to be -- but Ringo's son filled in quite nicely.

I've seen dozens of Dead and Neil Young shows long after their prime. Neil has yet to turn in a bad performance (although I hear "Greendale" was painful), and well, The Dead were The Dead -- any given night could be magic or ghastly, depending on set list, audience, and chemical usage.

The other side of the coin was The Beach Boys, at The Great New York State Fair in 1992. They (barely) went through the motions, and Mike Love took it upon himself to throw in some right-wing commentary as well as a general denouncement of rap music. Guess he forgot about that hit he had with the Fat Boys.

Louis said...

For my part every person must go through this.
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