Monday, July 30, 2007

Encore Performance

Keeping with the concert theme I’ve been on lately, I realized something at my recent Police concert. While this was the first time I had seen The Police, it was my third concert seeing Sting. The first time was right after he started his solo career about 1987. He played the SunDome in Tampa and did a mix of Police and solo material. Near the end of the show, he stopped and disingenuously asked for requests. The crowd chanted “Roxanne! ROXANNE!” He paused and said “Twenty years from now, I’m going to come back to Tampa a old tired man and you people will still be screaming for Roxanne.” More prophetic and ironic words have never been spoken.

That made me think back on other artists I have seen multiple times and how they have evolved.

Jimmy Buffet (6 times): I first saw the son of a son of a sailor at Six Flags Over Georgia. My future wife was working there and could get passes so we saw a lot of free concerts. We saw him again the next year he came around. The following year, he played Chastain Park in Atlanta which is an experience all to its own. After we moved to Florida a bunch of us at my work bought tickets to see him at the SunDome. We spent all day at work playing Songs You Know By Heart over and over again. By the time of the show we were a bit burnt out, but had a good time nonetheless. Two years later, my folks bought me tickets to see him in St. Petersburg at what is now called Tropicana Field. This domed ballpark seats 30,000 for concerts and Jimmy marveled at all the youngsters in the crowd and professed he never dreamed he would become family entertainment. Perhaps misguided by that statement, when my son was about ten I bought lawn seats for his annual show at Merriweather Post Pavilion. All went well until the lights went down and the drunken sun-baked crowd surged and nearly trampled my family on the beach blanket. We left half way through the show and I haven’t seen him since. Reserved seats sell out instantly and I refuse to brave the Margaritaville lawn again.

Bruce Springsteen (3 times): Bruce and I kept missing each other in the 80s and then he went semi-retired for nearly a decade. I was bummed because his live shows are legendary. When he reformed the E Street Band I vowed to see him at any cost. I camped out and stood in line. My seats were the next to top row at the back of the MCI Center, but I was in the same building as Bruce at last. Two years later when he went on tour for The Rising, I snagged seats for his tenth and final night at Giants Stadium. It just doesn’t get better. Still, I had the bug. I scoured fansites and got two more tickets for his show at FedEx Field in DC. The setlists between the two dates only overlapped about 50% and that show was also great.

U2 (3 times): In 1987, my wife’s office Christmas party was the same night that U2 played the old “Big Sombrero” Tampa Stadium for their Joshua Tree tour. We left early and bundled up for the chilly weather and saw perhaps the best live concert I have ever seen. Nearly fourteen years later, we got tickets for their stop at the Baltimore Arena. Their post-9/11 tribute didn’t leave a dry eye in the house. Lightning had struck twice. We saw them again in Philly for the Vertigo tour. While the show was just as effects packed, they could never approach the power of the earlier two shows.

Melissa Etheridge (3 times): Read this post for more about my love affair with Melissa.

DaVinci’s Notebook (3 times): One Friday night while the family was hanging at BigBoxOfBooks, they had an a cappella group playing in the back. They were really funny and I bought their CD and laughed my ass off. A few years later, they played a show at Centennial Park in Columbia, but said that if you wanted to hear their non-kid-friendly numbers you would have to pay for a nighttime show, so we did. I got tickets to see them at Ram Heads Tavern and when they opened the show with their biggest hit “Enormous Penis” I knew we were into for something different.

Indigo Girls (2 times): I love Emily and Amy's music, but my experience with their live shows has been poor. The first time was at SunFest in West Palm Beach. In order to get good seats, you had to get there really early. By the time they took the stage, my toddler son had gotten super cranky and cried through most of the set. The second time was at Wolf Trap, which, as Claude will attest, is a great place to see performers. However, the night before we had seen Melissa Etheridge in an electrifying solo show at the Warner Theater and The Girls suffered in comparison. My wife rolled her eyes as they swapped out their guitars for banjos and mandolins for every other song. The pacing was so bad, my wife dragged me to the parking lot before the first encore. If I get to see them again, it will be by myself.

Amy Grant (2 times): My wife had heard about Amy while attending a small Baptist college. Since she was playing Six Flags and I got to see it for free, I was game. I liked the music but was puzzled by some of the evangelical related hand waving. A year later she had gotten some crossover success and her show that summer was very different. She wore her famous leopard skin jacket and had cut out her testimonial entirely. Interesting to see how much an artist can change in a year.

The Go-Gos (2 times): Another free Six Flags show, Belinda Carlisle stumbled all over the stage and never let go of her red plastic cup. It wasn’t until I saw Behind The Music years later that I would realize just how trashed she was. A few years back the band got back together to do an oldies tour with the B-52s and Belinda looked sober the whole show.

Eddie Money (2 times): Not something I’m proud of, but I have seen Eddie Money more than once. He was the opening act at the first concert I ever attended. I have it on good authority that Foghat was the headliner, but Eddie is the only part of the show I really remember. In college, my future wife and I went to go see Cindy Lauper. And the opening act was Eddie Money. He had sunk into obscurity and was on the comeback trail. Nobody needs to see a sweaty shortless ex-cop singing twice in one lifetime. To this day, I wince whenever I hear “Two Tickets To Paradise.”

Thanks for indulging my trips down memory lane. Hopefully, I will see a lot more of the good acts again. And I will try to avoid Eddie Money at all costs.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: What’s the favorite act you have seen more than once? Or what has been the most disparate pair of performances you’ve seen by one artist?


Anonymous said...

TSO, twice. Outstanding ensemble and vocalists. Stagecraft. Effects. Audio quality. Lighting design. It's all there. Cannot be missed even if you hate Christmas tunes.

Elizabeth said...

OMG, I just looked up Da Vinci's Notebook on youtube and listened to the My Enormous Penis song! I laughed so hard pop came out of my nose! I'm going to have to buy their CD!
I went to the very first Farm Aid Concert and saw Jimmy there. I've been a Parrot Head ever since! However since he doesn't ever come up to Alaska, I haven't seen him since. In fact I don't think I saw any act twice.

Impetua said...

Michelle Shocked, several times, each time totally enjoyable and different. Normally I like things a bit predictable but she makes the new stuff so great that you don't begrudge it.

Also: Lyle Lovett. He is funny and personable and his wit is so dry. I never get tired of him.

Anonymous said...

Thinking about it, I've only ever seen 3 acts more than once and one of them was extremely local.

Dirk Debonair and the Boat People were a San Diego band that never got beyond the local bar scene. Lot of fun though. I remember they had a song about getting wasted on Romylar.

The Beat Farmers were another SD band, but they got some recognition outside SoCal. Greatest bar band in the world. I preferred the original line up with Buddy Blue, but they were still good after he left.

I also saw the Busboys several times. They're probably the only band on this list most of you have ever heard of. (They were the band in the club in 48 Hours.) Great band, a lot of fun. Got killed by the marketeers who couldn't grasp the concept of black people playing rock and roll.

Anonymous said...

As for the disparate: Back in the 80s I was a big Rush fan. I loved Neil Peart on drums and I loved that Geddy Lee had such a unique voice for a lead singer and that his looks were the antithesis of the pretty-boy mugs who fronted the biggest hair bands of the day. I saw them on the Power Windows tour and they were amazing. Geddy's voice was great and the band was tight. Saw them on the next tour (for Hold Your Fire, I believe) and they were horrible. Geddy's voice was shot and nothing sounded close to anything I knew of theirs. Unfortunately, I guess, I never gave them a third chance.

Sue T. said...

I've seen Cheryl Wheeler four times -- yellojkt, since you seem to have a soft spot for folky lesbians & artists with a sense of humor, you might give her a try sometime. I've seen Ted Leo, Pavement, Bob Mould and Robyn Hitchcock at least 4x each as well.

Anonymous said...

The Mountain Goats!


They are awesome. You should see them as often as possible.

I also saw Ranier Maria twice -- once as an opening act that I hadn't heard of when I went to the show, once as headliners.

Also also, I saw Tori Amos twice and disliked both shows. I really like her music on CD, but her live shows just seem to empahsize all the things I don't like about her schtick -- it was pretty dissapointing.


Jeff and Charli Lee said...

Poor Eddie is still touring the minor league ballrooms as the "headline" act. It's a sad thing really. He also does that annoying thing where he starts a phrase and holds out the microphone to the audience so they can finish it. "I've got...." "Won't you..."


Anonymous said...

A friend of mine worked security for an Eddie Money at Edinboro college during the mid-80's. Eddie was stoned out of his gourd and gave a horrific performance, so my friend felt compelled to lock him in his dressing room and eat all of his food. While my friend happily munched away, Eddie Money pounded on the door and pleaded to be let out.

Favorite act I've seen more than once is Neil Young, followed closely by Barenaked Ladies, who are musical lightweights to be sure, but loads of fun in concert.

Most disparate performances have to belong to Los Lobos. I've seen them four times -- twice in a nightclub, where they shined. Once, opening for U2 in a stadium during The Joshua Tree tour. Los Lobos is a vastly underrated band, but they are most definitely NOT stadium material.

And the last time I saw them was at a local county park's summer concert series. They started off with their hits, such as they are, but to not much response from the mostly older crowd. Then, they kind of huddled up on stage, and said, "Hey, we hear you people in Pittsburgh like polkas. Here's some Mexican polka music."

They then launched into a set of music that had thousands of old people polka-ing in the aisles. It was transcendant, and I mean that. Awesome.

carmilevy said...

When I was a kid, I always wondered why folks would go see the same artist more than once. Over time, I began to appreciate how artists can subtly evolve over time, and seeing them repeatedly allows us to grow along with them.

From that point on, I saw musicians very differently, and I learned to enjoy concerts much more profoundly. Thanks for the reminder.

I popped by from Michele's tonight. Isn't she grand?