strumzilla

​A blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

Filtering by Tag: Live Music

Concerts Attended*

I randomly decided to list the shows my friend Matt and I had attended over the years and then it just seemed natural to finish the job. This mainly satisfies my need to list/organize things, and it's a nice trip down memory lane as well. I've been pretty good about keeping ticket stubs over the years but there are a few omissions here and there. I have actually gone to the trouble to try and find ticket stubs on Ebay and I managed to get stubs for Journey (my first show), Van Halen on Diver Down, Ozzy on BATM (also saw him at the Texas Jam on that tour, for which I still had the stub), and Dio from Last in Line. Why these particular stubs were lost is a mystery as I have most of the shows I've ever seen.

I'm still trying to get several other stubs but the pickings are quite lean in that department. I actually bought ticket type paper and need to get around to recreating a few of the missing stubs. There have been a few shows I've attended on will call that they just don't give you a stub by policy or on occasion a ticket printer wasn't working. 

*reliving past shows is the gift that keeps on giving. 

IMG_0652.JPG
IMG_0653.JPG
IMG_0654.JPG
IMG_0655.JPG
IMG_0656.JPG
IMG_0657.JPG
IMG_0658.JPG
IMG_0659.JPG
IMG_0660.JPG
IMG_2606.jpg

Crimson musings

I finally got to see the legendary King Crimson led by the steady hand of the venerable Robert Fripp in Dallas this past Saturday. I waxed a bit poetic on el facebook:

A theater unto itself, a King Crimson concert is a humbling display of power, precision, and passion. At times subtle and delicate, but unfailingly relentless and implacable all the while. I sat in bewilderment, my attention passing quickly from musician to instrument and back again, barely able to keep up with their performances.

Moving from joy to sadness, from confusion to clarity, from gobsmacked to gleeful, I was blown away by this night. These world class musicians were a sight to behold and brought a wondrous spiritual rhapsody, of a kind I've never quite witnessed before. Thank you, gentlemen, thank you indeed.

Set 1:
Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One
Pictures of a City
Cirkus
Neurotica
Fallen Angel
Epitaph
Discipline
Red
Islands
Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two

Set 2:
Drumson Outbreak of Wonderment, Joy & Bliss Arising
Easy Money
Indiscipline
The ConstruKction of Light (Part I)
Lizard
Moonchild
The Court of the Crimson King
Meltdown
Radical Action II
Level Five
Starless

Encore:
21st Century Schizoid Man

It was truly one of the most powerful shows I've ever attended, and judging from the audience response (a standing ovation after nearly every song) they felt the same way. I managed to sneak my way into Tony Levin's blog post about the show as seen in these photos. 

 

 

Hans Zimmer

 

We had a great time and really enjoyed Hans Zimmer last night at Verizon. We managed to get front row seats through the regular ticket sales (without any VIP upgrade nonsense) and it was nice to have an unobstructed view of the entire show. I'm not sure of the exact number, but there were probably about fifty musicians and choir on stage. The primary players included Guthrie Govan on lead guitar right in front of us, so that was quite cool. He had several solos. There were about fifteen "lead" players who were featured at various points and they were all amazing. The Gladiator medley was a highlight, but really the entire show was phenomenal. So cool to see film soundtrack music live, a pretty unique experience for us. Aeyong really enjoyed the show as well, which is always a bonus considering how many shows we see that are more my taste than hers. In the past few years, I've deliberately only bought her a ticket if I think she will enjoy the show. There are several shows that I know will probably be a negative experience for her (gen adm standing, really heavy music a la Opeth, etc.). It's great when I feel like we both equally enjoyed a show, and this was one of those. The set list is an approximation I think. It's taken from a recent show, and I'm not well versed in Han's music to the point I'm fully confident in its accuracy. It's pretty close to what they played though. 

 

 

Driving

Discombobulate

Rescue Me / Zoosters Breakout

Roll Tide

160 BPM

The Wheat

The Battle

Now We Are Free

Chevaliers de Sangreal

Circle of Life Intro

King of Pride Rock

This Land

Circle of Life Reprise

Jack Sparrow

Marry Me

He's a Pirate

Intermission

You're So Cool

Rain Man Theme

Thunderbird

What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?

Is She With You?

The Electro Suite

Journey to the Line

Why So Serious / Like a Dog Chasing Cars / Why Do We Fall?

Fear Will Find You / The Fire Rises / Gotham's Reckoning

Aurora

Day One

No Time for Caution

Stay

Encore - Inception Medley

Half Remembered Dream

Dream Is Collapsing

Mombasa

Time

Joe Jackson Live, Dallas 2015

It was great to see Joe Jackson live again, for the first time in nearly 30 years. It was even more enjoyable to see a show with my old friend, Matt Garrett with whom I've seen some legendary concerts. Joe and his touring band: Graham Maby (bass), Teddy Kumpel (guitar), and Doug Yowell (drums) were fantastic and capable of covering a broad range of Joe's catalog and covers (Scary Monsters!) with their freakish musicianship and solid vocal skills as well. 

Joe (and his fans) aren't getting any younger, but for most of the gig you could close your eyes and it would be 1986 all over again. His piano playing has always been stellar and that combined with his beautiful grand piano and the always great sound at The Majestic Theatre made it sublime. We suffered a slight embarrassment of riches in that we were so close to the stage and had a bit of a proximity imbalance with the mix. Doug Yowell's deceptively diminutive frame belied a powerhouse player who literally beat the skins off his kit. That's not to say he wasn't subtle and nuanced when needed. Doug and the band join a long roster of amazing musicians that Joe seems to attract magnetically. 

Graham Maby doesn't need my description or endorsement. He's a legend in the Joe canon, and deservedly so. Teddy Kumpel was a previously unknown player to me but he adeptly covered a broad range of not only guitar tones but several other instruments during the performance (often covering brass, string and even vocal parts). Joe's set progressed in an additive fashion, with just Joe on piano and vocals for the first few songs and Graham joining for "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" followed by Doug Yowell, and finally Teddy Kumpel. They ended the set the same way, which is such a Joe thing to do. He's always had the aesthetic symmetry to his art, demonstrated in the global resonance of Big World, recently mirrored in the four "City" EPs that make the new album. The devil is always in the details and Joe's music has always had multiple layers to discover over progressive listenings. Supposedly some private New York gigs were recorded for television, hopefully these will surface at some point. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Maby
http://www.teddyjam.com
http://www.guitarmoderne.com/artists/spotlight-teddy-kumpel#more-2828
http://fret-king.com/black-label/elise.html#.VhpfYBNVhHx
https://dougyowell.wordpress.com/

 

  1. It's Different for Girls 

  2. Home Town 

  3. Be My Number Two 

  4. Girl  (The Beatles cover)

  5. Fast Forward 

  6. Is She Really Going Out With Him? 

  7. Real Men 

  8. You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want) 

  9. A Little Smile 

  10. Kings of the City 

  11. Poor Thing 

  12. Love at First Light 

  13. Another World 

  14. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)  (David Bowie cover)

  15. Sunday Papers 

  16. Keep on Dreaming 

  17. Ode to Joy 

  18. Steppin' Out 

  19. Encore:
  20. See No Evil 

  21. One More Time 

  22. A Slow Song 

We move forward

It's Friday or 금요일 as our allies in the Pacific Rim are fond of saying. By the way, the trailer for Pacific Rim came out this week and it looks tasty. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro (who has done some great work in the past) but produced by Michael Bay this thing looks like a Transformers meets Godzilla type flick but with Del Toro directing, it's sure to have his very crafty spin on it.

We're about to pull the trigger on getting a new house. We sold the Killeen house in September and we were contemplating waiting for a few years but we've decided we don't want to wait too long and have the interest rates and housing prices start to climb back up on us. We may be proven wrong, but I don't think mortgage rates can go much lower than now at ~3%. We've been looking at some acre sized properties in a few newish developments in Benbrook since we moved here and we've settled on Mustang Creek.

We're meeting with Royal Crest Custom Homes next week and will try and get the ball rolling. Luckily the owner of our current rental house has agreed to let us stay a few months past the current lease if the house can't be completed by July 1st. I have a feeling since it's already mid-December that it will be July or later before it can be finished. We're stretching our comfort zone on the price but we're essentially getting our dream home and we should be comfortable staying there indefinitely barring some major unforeseen event or change in our status.

Aeyong is getting a larger property which will give her the freedom to further develop her green thumbs & fingers and it will also be a great boon to our four legged children. Probably the nicest part of a larger plot for me is the separation from your next door neighbors. Less concern about wearing out my welcome via Les Paul. We're going to have a home theater as well as a nice covered patio with outdoor kitchen and fireplace. We're going for upgraded finishes inside as well to include granite countertops in kitchen/bathrooms and scrubbed hardwood in the office/dining/living rooms. I'll get a bonus room above the garage for my glorified music studio. It's a bit odd shaped by the square footage is large enough that I should have plenty of room.

It's probably a lot more house than we need, but our home has always been the one great investment/expenditure that we both agreed on being the top priority. We like to get out and travel, see concerts, etc. but we're homebodies at heart. Hopefully we're going to finally be planting roots after 25 years.

On the concert calendar (how could I not include a concert calendar update? it's like the daily weather), we're going to be seeing Yes and then Jim Gaffigan on back to back nights in March. Fleetwood Mac also went on sale this week for a June show at AA center but by the time I found out about it the AMEX presale was a few days old and all the great seats had already been snatched up by the online scalpers. We may skip this one unless we can get a decent deal, which is too bad since we haven't seen FMac since 2004 and Aeyong likes them, which can't always be said about the shows we attend. The Yes show has yet another different new lead singer from a Yes cover band that started touring with them this year when Benoit David took ill. I hear good reports, but it would be nice if they could just work things out with Jon Anderson. Nevertheless, it's still Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White, and Geoff Downes and they are going to be playing The Yes Album, Close to the Edge, and Going for the One in succession. That means I'll get to hear CTTE and Awaken live for the first time, which will be very cool.

Concert Calendar Update

It's a good thing I periodically check artist websites, because I would otherwise miss out on some great shows. A random check of Eric Johnson's website showed he was playing the Granada in Dallas in October and then checking their website I found out Asia is playing there in November, and performing their eponymous first album in its entirety. So tickets have been purchased for both. I got Aeyong a seat for EJ and I bought a gen admission ticket for myself so I can get close. Asia is all gen admission so we didn't have a choice for them.

So September is actually looking light with only Slash (an understatement, I've been wanting to see him and Myles Kennedy for awhile now), October has Australian Pink Floyd, Eric Johnson, and Joe Bonamassa and then November will have Asia and Rush. 2012 has been a pretty good concert year. I've seen Opeth, Mastodon, Ghost, Roger Waters, Boston and Tenacious D for the first time(s). You could add Led Zeppelin 2, who, despite being a cover band really did nail LZ in all aspects. It was really close to what seeing them circa 1977 must have been like. Add Tommy Emmanuel, Van Halen, and Iron Maiden to the repeat concerts and the previously mentioned upcoming shows proves it's been a fairly stellar concert year. We're at a point now that we're still fairly selective about who we see.

There are a few shows we skip depending upon the night of the week, venue, whether we've seen them recently, and other reasons. We missed Tool since they were the same night as LZ2 and we already had tickets (no, I would never have skipped Tool for a cover band otherwise). We skipped Coldplay, because although I really like their 2nd album, their subsequent albums have progressively lost a little bit of what made the 2nd album great. I would still see them, but I really didn't feel like hanging out with loads of iFans at American Airlines. No disrespect to Chris Martin, but, the few times I've heard him live I've been less than impressed as well.

There are still a few big gaps in our concert history. Right now among the large venue bands it would have to be Foo Fighters and The Killers. Hopefully we'll get chances to see both although I don't relish the large venue ticket sticker shock I'm sure will be the case. I know Aeyong would enjoy Jason Mraz, and Mark Knopfler as well. Knopfler's playing as opener for Bob Dylan and I'm tempted, but we'd probably rather see him do a full solo show. I respect the hell out of Dylan's songwriting, but I've never gelled with his vocal/music style live.

Gig Report

I'm trying to think of a way that could sound more pretentious, but I think I nailed it right there. For lack of a better term, I played my first gig (ever) as a musician this past Saturday. It was for a sitting room only crowd of 15 family, friends, and general well wishers. I played acoustic guitar while my sister Debbie sang Amazing Grace, followed by my niece Heather on Over the Rainbow and finally with How Great Thou Art (Carrie Underwood version) with Debbie on lead vocals and Heather singing harmony.

I played modified versions of the Tommy Emmanuel arrangements of AG and OTR. It was a memorial service for our grandmother Nonie who passed away last month at the age of 85. It went pretty well, there were no big mistakes and everyone seemed to appreciate the effort. Heather was temporarily overcome with emotion while singing OTR because she said made eye contact with our audience and they were all crying and that set her off. It made the moment more emotional and poignant. I studiously looked at the guitar and didn't look at audience. I don't know if I would have become overly emotional, but I could have easily lost track of where I was in the song.

I know I didn't play it as well as I would want, but it went okay and there were no glaring errors made. Somewhere in there I started to actually disconnect from the mechanics and feel the emotion of the songs. I can say that details are hard to recall, it was mostly a blur. I want to get out and perform again but I'm not sure if I want to pursue the solo acoustic path or electric guitar in a rock band path first. I want to do both, but I'm a little more inclined to rock right now. I need to keep working on my set list of known songs so I have something to offer any potential bands. I'm more inclined to play with a covers band, at least at first.

First Gig

It's been awhile since the last update. There's lots to talk about, but of primary importance is my first "gig" coming up Saturday. Gig is probably being generous as it's just a couple of songs for my Grandmother Nonie's memorial service. Luckily my big sister Debbie and niece Heather will be singing vocals so that can only help me sound better. We'll be doing altered versions of Amazing Grace and Over the Rainbow as arranged by Tommy Emmanuel but adapted for vocals and my technical limitations. We'll also be doing How Great Thou Art at my mother's request, although it will be the Carrie Underwood version. I'll be playing my Maton acoustic through my recently acquired Fishman Aura preamp and Roland AC-33 acoustic amp. I bought the Roland because I thought we would be doing the ceremony outside, as it's capable of running on batteries. Fortunately the venue has moved indoors, so I'm assuming we'll have access to power. I could probably go straight acoustic, but I wanted some extra compression/reverb for the harmonics on OTR. It's been a learning experience as I've discovered the challenge of playing an instrument while trying to listen and respond to a vocalist. This may encourage me to purse an open mic in the future.

Concert Schedule (Updated)

Roger Waters - The Wall - Austin 5/3/12
Van Halen - Dallas 6/20/12
Boston - Grand Prairie 7/10/12
Tenacious D - Dallas 7/20/12
Iron Maiden - Dallas 8/17/12
Australian Pink Floyd- G. Prairie 10/4/12
Joe Bonamassa - Dallas 10/30/12
Rush - Dallas 11/28/12


Just recently saw Opeth/Mastodon/Ghost at the Palladium in Dallas. It was a good show overall. I enjoyed all three sets, but definitely enjoyed Opeth the most. The biggest con were the truncated sets since they were dual headlining. Mastodon played about 80 or so minutes and Opeth was shorter than that. It was a decent set list, mostly from the new album and a few select cuts from the past, most of which were regular vocals. They played a couple growl tunes at the end for their long term fans. They closed out with "The Grand Conjuration" from Ghost Reveries which is a pretty cool tune. I wish they would have played something from Blackwater Park, but hopefully I'll get another chance to see them when they're performing a full set.

Mastodon was high energy, but it was near impossible to understand the vocals, or even sus out exactly what the guitars and bass were doing at any given point. Loud and distorted but lacking a little on the clarity. Not that I was surprised by that. I think most of the fans (and it was a young crowd) were there for Mastodon and probably less than half were there for Opeth.

Concert season is warming up

March is dry for concerts, but starting in April we'll have a regular run of at least one concert a month until August. Coming up in two weeks is Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame on his solo tour supporting his second album. He'll be playing the HOB Dallas and the only real negative is that it's on a Monday night, which along with Tuesday night are the least desirable concert nights. I like to combine concerts with a long weekend and those two nights are the least ideal.

The next week (Thursday, yes!) it's Opeth/Mastodon/Ghost for some metal mayhem at the Palladium. Aeyong will be skipping that one, I'm pretty sure she wouldn't enjoy it that much. A couple weeks after that it's Roger Waters performing "The Wall" in it's entirety (and apparently nothing else) in Austin. I had skipped the last few Roger Waters tours because I've always held out hope I could see David Gilmour and he has always been my preferred member of the band. But I came to realize that if I don't see Roger Waters now, I'll most likely never have seen any member of Pink Floyd live in my life, and that's a huge void in my concert going history. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Queen are probably the 3 biggest omissions that I wish I could rectify, but it isn't likely to ever happen. If Queen tours with Paul Rodgers (or even Adam Lambert) I'll go see them, because I love Brian May and Roger Taylor and Paul Rodgers is awesome (actually saw him twice with Jimmy Page in the Firm) and I can tolerate other singers if the band founders find them suitable.

Case in point would be Yes with Benoit David (although I'm not sure if he got fired now). We have seen the more recent lineup with Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White, Oliver Wakeman, and Benoit David and I think they did a fantastic job. I think the "Fly from Here" album is the best thing Yes (the more classical-ish, non Trevor Rabin lineup) have done since ABWH. I love the Trevor Rabin Yes as well, it's just a different band with him in it. Trevor is such a strong musical force, that the magnetic poles in Yes shift when he's in the band, more than with Steve (and I love Steve and consider him a primary influence).

Anywhoooo....

Roger Waters is in early May, and then about 6-7 weeks later is potentially the highlight (for me, anyway) of the summer with Van Halen at AA center in Dallas for the "A Different Kind of Truth" tour. A new album, with David Lee Roth. A really good, no great VH album, with David Lee Roth. Let that sink in. Have you bought it? Listened to it? No, I mean, LISTENED to it? If not, go do that and come back. Take a couple weeks of heavy rotation. Preferably on a good home stereo if you have one of those. No, not those crap logitechs next to your monitor. I mean a home stereo. Not the $199 HTIB that you got on black friday 7 years ago at WalMart. Ok, if necessary, go make some money, buy a respectable home theater speaker system (or go old school stereo if you want, that's perfectly acceptable, and you get style points from the audiophiles if it's a good set of speakers) and then listen to the cd or make sure you're listening to a lossless or high resolution audio format. Lather, rinse, repeat.

WARNING - MINI VH ALBUM REVIEW FOLLOWS THEN CONCERT DISCUSSION RESUMES LATER
This new Van Halen album is easily the best thing they've done since 1984. Sure, it would be different than the SH (or even Gary Cherone if you include him) era because of DLR and Wolfie, but it's not the novelty of having DLR back. I honestly considered DLR peripheral to most of the VH stuff I really loved, because it was always about 80% Eddie, 10% Alex, and 10% of the other two for me. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Michael Anthony sings great backing vocals and is a "decent" bassist (staying out of Eddie's way is his best skill), and DLR is the ultimate showman. Yada, Yada, Yada. I just always felt like VH could have been a Zeppelin equivalent (in importance, not as a successor to their sound) for me if EVH had a vocalist/lyricist and bassist that were in the same league as him. Imagine if Eddie had musicians as talented as John Paul Jones and Robert Plant or Freddie Mercury in Van Halen. Think of all the great music and imagine if you had someone like Roger Waters writing lyrics for it. See?

But all criticisms aside, DLR has truly gained some wisdom and honed his craft as a lyricist and singer since we last saw him and the VH boys. It's amazing because he's still the same vaudevillian/showman that he has always been, but he's gotten really good at it and his lyrics are so much beyond what they were in the past. Funny, irreverent, insightful, obscure, random. These are just some of the qualities to his new lyric writing. "Swapmeet Sally, Trampstamp Tat, Mousewife to Momshell in the time it took to get that new tattoo, tattoo, tattoo". I don't care what anyone says, those are perfect VH lyrics. It reminds me of Alice Cooper and some other great cerebrally funny lyricists through the years.

DLR manages to reference current popular culture (social media, music, mid life crises, etc) and mix it with classic Vh tropes (sex, drugs, and RnFR baby) while ensuring that it fits the feel of the music perfectly. This album actually makes me feel like the perfect VH lineup was always there, but in DLR and wolfie's (more about him soon) case, it just needed to mature (literally in Wolfie's case, he was an infant in their heyday).
On the subject of Wolfgang, or Ed Jr. (probably either is appropriate) he has really developed as a musician. We first saw him during the VH 2004 tour where he came out during EVH's solo (it was a running gag, EVH stops playing and the solo continues on the PA. A few seconds later, out comes a mini-Ed playing a Frankenstrat and it's Wolfgang, sounding like his Dad). Fast forward to 2011 and he's been the bass player since 2007 (maybe much earlier, not sure how long he's been playing bass). This dude has chops. He's a chip off the old block and now Eddie finally has a bass player that can keep up with him. It's actually changed the dynamics in the band quite a bit now, and I even think Eddie is approaching his tone differently (wah, anyone?) because of Wolfgang. More on VH later. Suffice to say, the new album is what the VH diehards have been hoping for all these years. All the people whining about the exclusion of Michael Anthony are seriously lacking in musical taste. And I think Michael's a respectable bassist and great backup singer. Wolfie's better, much better. And now it's the new and improved Van Halen. With 25% more Van Halen than ever before (see what I did there?). I don't know if any other living Van Halen's are musical (their Dad was, but I think he's probably passed on by now) but it would be interesting to see if they could pull off a VH quadfecta just for laughs.

BACK TO CONCERT CALENDAR DISCUSSION

VH in mid June followed by Boston in early July. Tom Scholz is essentially the only original member of the band now as far as I know, but that's fine with me, since Tom Scholz is Boston to me. Brad Delp is definitely out since he committed suicide several years ago. I haven't really kept up with them, but Boston and Scholz's guitar tone were defining sounds for me early in my guitar fandom. Don't Look Back was one of the earlier albums I purchased and really got into, replaying it on my turntable over and over. I know I definitely air guitared my ass off to that album. And, as established by Whitehead/Russell in Principia Mathematica, Air Guitar Worthy=Concert Worthy. It's in the appendix, look it up.

Closing out the presumably sweltering summer in August will be Iron Maiden back at the Smirnoff, I mean Superpages, I mean, whatever the hell they're calling it now shed. Iron Maiden is supposedly going to feature a big chunk of the set list from the "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" tour, so that should be cool. I was a bit letdown by the last set list in 2010, but I'm going to make sure I'm more familiar this time around. I have always been a Number of the Beast through Somewhere in Time era fan, but there are some other great Iron Maiden albums in there as well.

And hopefully concert season will be closed out by Rush in the early fall for their Clockwork Angels tour. All in all, it's going to be a good concert season.

A long drive to Colorado, Rush, and back

We returned home Friday after driving 16 hours both ways to see Rush in Colorado. We spread the drives out over two days each time, staying over at the posh Amarillo La Quinta, home of musty air conditioning and pet droppings in the grassy patches. The long drives and seedy motel stays were worth it since we got to see Rush in what's probably one of the best venues in North America, Red Rocks in Colorado.  Built out of a natural amphitheatre in the mountains outside of Denver, Red Rocks is a mixture of natural beauty with a man made venue overlaying it in seamless fashion. The staggered stadium style seating means that everyone in the place has an unobstructed view of the stage, a rarity for most concert venues. 

The weather was mild and beautiful, and the crowd were fully energized for a night of classic progressive rock from its pre-eminent power trio. The set list didn't disappoint with their typical mixture of old and new (including two songs from their forthcoming album) with the classic "Moving Pictures" being the feature of their second set. "The Camera Eye" is a song I never expected to see Rush perform, and it was a truly moving experience to hear it live for the first time.  The show featured all the requisite Rush lights, video, sound, pyrotechnics, with a set list to satisfy everyone who came to the show.  They played all the expected hits but threw in enough deep cuts to satisify their stalwart loyal.  In addition to TCE, they played La Villa Strangiato, Leave That Thing Alone, Stick It Out, Presto, Faithless, and several other deep cuts. Their two new songs "Caravan" and "BU2B" were ideally suited to live performance since both are pretty hard rocking tunes.  A fantastic show as always and we're looking forward to seeing them again in Houston next month.

2010 Summer Concert Series

is shaping up to be a good one. Iron Maiden & Dream Theater in Dallas tomorrow. Tool in Georgetown on June 22nd. Rush at Red Rocks (Denver) on August 18th, Asia at the Paramount in Austin on August 22nd, Billy Idol in Dallas on August 24th, Rodrigo & Gabriela in Austin on September 3rd, Tommy Emmanuel in Austin September 16/17th, Rush in Houston September 25th.  July is rather bare at this point but hopefully something will come up worth seeing that month. I'm especially looking forward to Maiden, Dream Theather, Tool, & Rodrigo/Gabriela since these will be first time shows. It goes without saying that Rush, BIlly Idol & Tommy Emmnauel will be great. This will be our 7th/8th time seeing Rush, my 3rd time seeing Billy Idol, our 4/5th time for Tommy.  This will be the 2nd time we've seen Asia but this should be a longer set than last time when they opened for Yes in Fort Worth.  The Rush shows should be great since they'll be playing two new songs as well as Moving Pictures in its entirety. 

Recent developments

Time is slowly chugging along here at FOB Blessing. Nothing of great import has transpired since last update with the exception of my removal from ADVON which means I will be coming home in late June or early July as opposed to late May. That change has its pros and cons with the main negative being more time away from home but almost everything else is positive. The ADVON providers have to setup the medical footprint and get everyone at home ready for the return of the brigade so it’s a lot of coordination that can be somewhat of a pain. The other positive is that it will be one or two more months of the extra combat pays so that will come in handy.

Of most significant import on the musical front is that yesterday we got tickets to see Yes with Asia (Steve Howe will be pulling double duty) July 15th at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. Of all the concerts and musicians I have been able to see over the years, there are still a couple of my all time favorites that I have never seen live and Steve Howe is at the top of the list.  I was able to catch Yes on the 90125 tour with Trevor Rabin (a fantastic show and I was very happy to see that lineup) but I have always felt I missed a great opportunity to see Steve Howe with the classic lineup, playing the more classic era song list. Unfortunately (depending on your viewpoint) Jon Anderson & Rick Wakeman have both had some medical issues that have kept them from performing so Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White have enlisted the duties of Oliver Wakeman (Rick’s son) on keyboards and Benoit David (a Yes tribute band member) on vocals. According to reviews from a short tour last winter, David sounds like the Jon Anderson of the 70’s and does an incredible job on the old tunes. Another benefit of this lineup is that they can perform tunes from Drama which Jon Anderson always refused to do. So it’s possible this set list will be about the most varied and interesting they have performed in a long time. I’m fairly sure they will perform Close to the Edge in entirety and that’s worth the price of admission alone. I’m really looking forward to Machine Messiah or pretty much anything from Drama.

But if that wasn’t enough, they are being joined by Asia with the original lineup and they should be able to draw tunes from the first two albums as well as the most recent studio album “Phoenix” which was released a couple of years ago. Asia comes from a unique genre in that it’s the closest thing to Progressive Pop, definitely the most successful next to the 90125 Yes of that era. The nice thing is that the “Phoenix” is actually a great album in their catalog and it seems like the album they should have released after the first two. Asia had many forgettable lineups and albums in the intervening years between “Alpha” and “Phoenix” but this tour is shaping up to very promising.

Robert holds the bone…

but declines to throw it.  Reports were widespread that an ultimatum from Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones had resulted in Robert Plant relenting and agreeing to tour with Led Zeppelin next year. I bought it enough to tell my wife to plan for a trip or two and a new bank loan to pay for the tickets next year.  Today I wake up to see a report that Robert Plant posted an announcement on his web page that he will not be touring, but wishes the other members well in their future endeavors. The rumors were that the band was auditioning another, younger singer to take Plant's place and that this is what motivated him to relent.  Apparently, it isn't to be.  If Zeppelin does tour with a different singer, I'll probably still go see them. After all, it will still be Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones with John Bonham's son and they will play a pretty solid setlist if they repeat what they performed at the O2 show. 

I have to wonder if Plant or other parties will sue the band if they try to tour under the Zeppelin name. Whatever they call it, I'll still be motivated to see them. I last saw Jimmy Page when he was with the Firm in 84-85. I saw them before they had a name at the British Invasion tour show in Dallas, and then again a year later as the Firm. It was a decent show, but not Zeppelin. Jimmy did play a very drunken instrumental version of Stairway at the first show and I was close enough to jump up and touch his doubleneck (his guitar, you pervs) although I also declined. Paul Rodgers is good with Bad Company, and I really like what he has done with Queen but he didn't really gel with Jimmy Page back then.  I'll be very happy if they can get someone with Robert's old vocal range and play the songs like they were played back in Zeppelin's heyday.

Belated Rush Reviews…

It's been nearly a month since I saw Rush in Houston and Austin on a Saturday and the following Wednesday (Apr 19/23rd).  The delay is more work/life related on my part than a lack of desire to post a review.  Both shows were great, and I won't post as detailed a review as from last August as the show was mostly the same with the exception of a few set list changes and a new video before the second set.  I am probably in the minority of people who aren't as happy with the set list changes because I really was happy to hear Entre Nous and Circumstances as I had never heard them live before (and they are both great tunes).  They decided to go back to a few classic staples since this second leg was hitting several cities that hadn't been on the tour itinerary in several years.  The other deletions are Secret Touch and Distant Early Warning. I'm a big fan of Vapor Trails (and Snakes & Ladders) so I was also disappointed for them to remove Secret Touch. 

 I recently read Neil Peart's book "Ghost Rider" which took place in the interval between the death of his daughter & wife (both occurring within a year's span) and details how he rode his motorcycle for thousands of miles over the next few years as part of his recovery process. In the text of the book are many literary references, but the main focus of the book is sort of an autobiographical travelogue with intermittent flashes of his grieving process in the form of narrative as well as reprints of many letters he wrote during that time. Dispersed throughout the tome are several slices of what would eventually turn into the lyrics of the next album (VT). After reading it I gained a new appreciation for many of these songs (as well as his lyrics in general).  Gives me a new level of disgust at the blogger who ranked him (Neil) as the second worst Rock lyricist of all time. 

Here's the new setlist:

 

Setlist:

Video Intro (features all 3 band members)
Limelight
Digital Man
Ghost of a Chance
Mission
Freewill
The Main Monkey Business
The Larger Bowl (with McKenzie Brothers intro)
Red Barchetta
The Trees
Between The Wheels
Dreamline

Intermission

Video Intro (What's That Smell? features all 3 members, Jerry Stiller)
Far Cry
Workin' Them Angels
Armor And Sword
Spindrift
The Way The Wind Blows
Subdivisions
Natural Science
Witch Hunt
Malignant Narcissism
Drum Solo
Hope
The Spirit of Radio
2112: Overture / The Temples of Syrinx
Tom Sawyer (with South Park intro)

Encore:

One Little Victory
A Passage to Bangkok
YYZ
Video Outro (Alex, Neil, Jerry Stiller)

It was great to see them, especially in Austin. They played the Frank Erwin Center in the theatre setup which seats about 8000 total. The acoustics and the intimacy of the indoor environment allowed for a perfect live setting.  I think it will be better to space the shows apart because the novelty did wear a little bit since it had only been 5 days between shows. I think the perfect schedule would be to see them about three times per tour with at least a month between shows. I would also try and see them in as different an environment as possible. I think for the next tour (I feel like they have at least another album/tour in them) I will try to see them somewhere like Red Rocks or The Gorge in Washington, Vegas, and somewhere in Texas. 

Thank you sir, may I have another?

Unfortunately for many Rush fans in Houston and New Orleans, the shows got swapped to make way for the NBA playoffs which means Rush is playing Houston on Saturday the 19th instead of Sunday the 20th and there a lot of people trying to get rid of tickets they can't use now. On that note, I saw a deal on some Houston tickets for about half what they were going for before the date change. This is still a markup from box office, but it's so much cheaper than it would have been, and now with the show on a Saturday instead of a Sunday, the opportunity was too good to pass up.  So we're now going to see Rush in Houston in two days (11th row on Geddy's side) followed by the Austin show on Wednesday night. Fan-frickin-tabulous if you ask me. And you did, you did.

Deja Vu all over again…

For months I have been saying that I would be cutting back on my concerts with an extended vacation coming up and some inflationary belt tightening. However, the day is drawing close when Rush will be playing Austin on the 2nd leg of their Snakes & Arrows tour. A few days ago I was sitting in my office thinking about the upcoming concert and realizing I would be one hour's drive away from a Rush concert and I was missing it to sit at home and watch TV or something else extremely worthwhile. I knew that wouldn't work, especially since I'll have no chance at seeing shows for 12 months (e.g. Yes in August).

Rumors abound about set list and overall show presentation changes and upgrades for this leg. Foremost (at least in my mind) is the rumor that perhaps an entire album will be played and the leading candidates include Hemispheres, A Farewell to Kings, and Moving Pictures.  While I have serious doubts as to the veracity of these predictions, I am still entertaining the idea of hearing an entire album from the vault. Oh yeah, for those who recall the dancing of the gloat, here comes the 2nd verse (same as the first):

 

We're not quite as close as the last show, but this time we're in the middle front floor section and being on the 11th row will probably mean a better sound mix.

Geez Robert, throw us a fricking bone…

Continuing the theme of the last quarter century, Robert Plant has nixed the idea of a Zeppelin reunion tour despite a rumored offer of $200 million dollars (American) per member. This story has been out for a couple of weeks now and it seems that continuing to move forward as an artist is more important to him than revisiting Zeppelin or giving a parting gift to the millions of Zeppelin fans worldwide.  Here's one report from the many:

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/music/a90640/plant-snubs-gbp100-million-led-zep-offer.html

And a two part interview from Jan 2008 which further demonstrates the unlikeliness of a tour:


 

It just seems like he isn't ever going to change his mind. Hopefully a DVD will be released of the show.