Friday Fives – in concert edition

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, or over-think this.  Just whatever pops in to mind.

20141017_095812Best concert

Gosh, I have been to so many concerts. Hundreds. See those ticket stubs in there?  That is just the last ten years, after I had effectively stopped going to concerts.  Best Concert? In the spirit of not over-thinking it (per our instructions), it just may have been Pearl Jam last night in Denver. I have seen the band a lot. Over ten times, I would say. Last night’s show was unique and amazing. And long. Almost four hours. I wrote that up this morning, though, if you are interested.

Worst concert

I can’t think of any overtly bad shows. Ok, there were some that were a little disappointing. I saw Smashing Pumpkins three different times on the Siamese Dream tour. Each and every one of those shows was stopped early because Billy lost his shit at something stupid. However, the band was absolutely at the height of their powers then. So, even a shortened Pumpkins set was still more beautiful and powerful and intense than every other rock band playing a full set.  At that time, in that era, on that tour, Smashing Pumpkins*** were the greatest rock band in America.  This was a band at the height of their powers > like Guns and Roses ‘Appetite for Destruction’ era.  Zeppelin in ’77, the Destroyer bootleg era Chili Peppers*** on the ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magic’ tour.  Beastie Boys*** on ‘Ill Communication’.  Nirvana*** on Nevermind tour.  Pearl Jam*** on the Ten Tour.  Police*** on ‘Synchronicity’.  Prince in the ‘Purple Rain’ era.

Billy Corgan:  he will cut you

These are bands that were in top form, taking over the Earth.  It never lasts long, but if you can catch a band in this moment, you should.

There was another show I was disappointed at, but not the band’s fault at all. Back at Lolla 2 (1992) Pearl Jam had been added to the bill last minute. They were just coming up, and getting bigger every day. Because they were a late add, they had a shitty time slot. They went on at 2 pm. PLUS, it was a school/work day. So, about half the audience wouldn’t show up until about 7 pm, after work, time to catch the headliners. PLUS – it was Phoenix in the summer. So, it was 118 degrees out… as it is in summer in Phx.

At this point in time, I was already a rabid Pearl Jam fan. This was my third time seeing them, and they were still just out whoring for their very first album. I saw them three times in Phoenix in one year.  Can you imagine how many shows they must have played that year?  Editors note:  I counted them up.  They played 71 shows in one year. So, there was virtually no one there to see them. It was early and it was hot as hell. There was no shade at this venue, so most folks found a shaded beer garden and holed up there for a few hours. Sadly, those folks missed an amazing show. Pearl Jam ALWAYS puts on a killer and passionate show.

Most overrated live band

Poison. Actually, I don’t know how they are ‘rated’ live. But, I do enjoy their music. I don’t actually have any albums, but I know the music. Many, many years ago I had the cassette ‘Look what the cat dragged in’.  Look at this cover.  They were seriously hot, beautiful women. Their show was flat. It felt like they were just going through the motions. I fully get how that happens. After 4 or 500 hundred live shows, I imagine it gets tedious. The good bands, though, never let it show.

Oh, and Pink Floyd. That is correct, I have not only seen Pink Floyd, but they sucked. Even kookier – I can tell you that every other person there will tell you it was the greatest show in history. Why the discrepancy? Because most people are stooges. Couple that with the fact that I seriously am an expert in live concerts. I have actually seen more national touring acts than all of your friends put together.

At this point (early 90’s, Division Bell tour) the band was basically the David Gilmour show. That isn’t a necessarily a bad thing. The band played only expected songs. The setlist was boring and predictable. On top of that, the versions played were too good. There was no character or intimate moments. It literally sounded like the band put on a greatest hits CD and stood there. I understand that saying Pink Floyd is wildly over-rated sounds like a hipster douche. However, they are wildly overrated. I very much enjoy their music. However, about 60% of it lost its appeal after I stopped doing drugs. In an unrelated side note, here is my favorite Pink Floyd song, performed awesomely by David Gilmour. This is a beautiful and unique performance of a very deep cut… the kind of moments I live for… and the kind of moments that were not present that evening in Tempe.  I could tell you the name, but it’s so absurd you wouldn’t believe me.  Put some headphones on and dig it!

If you ever get me cornered, ask me to tell you about the drive home. In a blizzard. On drugs. In a strange car.   With a busted window. With 3 guys tripping balls. Oh, I guess I just told you the story. Well, never mind.

I love to play this song camping. It’s tough for the others. I tell them I am going to play some Floyd. Then, I play that song, an Fearless. People get quite disappointed. Sorry, but Wish you were Here gets boring after playing it for 30 years.

Most underrated live band

Again, I am going to mention a couple here. The first is Barenaked Ladies. I haven’t seen them since Steven Page left, so I can’t vouch for their shows now. However, this band is the most fun band live… consistently. I went in to the first show (tour supporting Rock Spectacle, and excellent live collection) just being a casual fan. Maybe even the tickets were free. I can’t remember laughing so hard or feeling so engaged as I did that night. Once that happened, I went to see them every chance I got. In Winterpark the show became rather famous among hardcore fans as the ‘pipe guy’ show.

It’s a great story, but one you need to hear in person. I have met hardcore BNL fans, who have never been to Colorado. I tell them “I was at the ‘pipe guy’ show and they gush every time. Ever been to a rock show at a ski resort? It is super cool. They set up a stage at the bottom of the hill/run. Then, the people just fill up the hill. Everyone has a great site line, because you are halfway up a mountain. On top of that, you are in the woods. It is just magical.

Oh, the other is James Taylor.  As you can guess, I have seen him a ton, too.  Over ten times.  Now, you imagine a James Taylor show is relaxed white people listening to very pretty songs.  It is.  But, it is SO much more.  First off, his voice is still crystal clear.  It sounds as good or better than it did in 1972, when Fire and Rain first came out.  Next, he is a super good guitar player.  Then, my favorite part; he is incredibly funny.  He is as engaging and fun as BNL.  There is no concert I laugh at more than a James Taylor show.  He gets is self image.  He is keenly aware that is a punchline of all that is white and boring in music.  He plays off that. Here is my favorite song of his, Copperline.

Best concert album

Simon and Garfunkel – Live in Central Park. There is no further discussion. There is top five list. Just that concert, far and away above the others.  I defy you to watch this and not cry.

 

*** I was at these shows

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Friday Fives – music at the movies

What was the first DVD you ever purchased?

Now that I remember well. I bought this DVD before I owned a DVD player. It was the greatest and dumbest and most perfect movie ever: Spinal Tap

Do you still watch it?

Oh yes, I put it on in the background when I am cleaning. Just like Princess Bride, it gets better with each screening. Did you know that whole movie was improvised? I am talking about Spinal Tap, not Princess Bride. In addition, those songs were all written by those guys. The recordings are them on guitar and vocals as well.   Not that is commitment to a role.  Also, like Princess Bride, I know every word to the movie.  Watching either of those movies with me isn’t much fun.  Inconceivable, I know!

Oh, and then… the fake satire movie novelty original music. It wasn’t tied to a movie or anything. They (Michael McKean, Chris Guest, and Harry Shearer) just found after making the movie they really enjoyed each other and making music. After their second CD, they went on tour. So, at this point, Spinal Tap is a real life band… putting out original CDs and touring.

Not only was the whole movie improvised (Chris Guest is the genius behind all that, and several other movies) but when the actors did press, they only did it in character. They were just winging it, constantly. I was lucky enough to see them play live a few years ago. They did a Spinal Tap Unplugged tour. It was amazing. They not only played their hit Spinal Tap songs, but they played songs from their other amazing and improvised music movie – A Mighty Wind. They released a DVD and CD of this tour.

Keep in mind these guys are doing this truly for the love of the music. Harry Shearer is the voice of about a third of the Simpsons, including Mr Burns and Smithers. After 25 years, he is not only a millionaire, he could be a billionaire.  The actors are likely getting about 10 million a year.  Best part about voice over work, no one knows your face.  Bart Simpson is likely one of the most recognized icons on earth, yet Nancy Cartwright could be sitting 5 feet from you and you wouldn’t know it.

If you could only save five DVDs from a house fire, what would they be?

Well, music DVDs, of course. Even though they are all likely totally replaceable, I mostly just buy music concert DVDs, because I can watch them over and over again.  I very rarely feel that way about movies.

Lesse, how about these. These are amazing performances, and you should own them as well:

*** Yes, I understand that was more than five.  What are you, a cop all the sudden?

Have you purchased any Blu Ray discs or do you just rent now?

Oh yes, I only buy Blu Ray now. However, I didn’t go back and re-buy my collection to upgrade from DVD to Blu Ray. When I got my Blu Ray player, though, at that point I began only buying Blu Ray going forward. The best thing about my Blu Ray player is that it is SO much more. It has the wireless internet stuff. So, it is also my Roku box, my Pandora music player, my Amazon pay per view movie player… all of that. Best $99 I have ever spent.

What is the jewel of your disc collection?

I have some really cool bootleg Todd Snider DVD shows, from this wonderful guy. Todd Snider is awesome. Here, just watch this. If you buy a CD of his, make SURE it is a live one. He is seriously more famous for telling his stories as he is for his songs.