Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:26 pm
Although this thread is inspired (continuation of) by the 2 HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM threads, it is by no means supposed to be a downer/depressing or viewing of said train wreck concerts…quite the opposite. It’s more about the celebration of Rock n Roll. And maybe an attempt on my part to view without rose colored glasses. I enjoy collecting Elvis shows; I enjoy them all, good and bad…or at least enjoy the chance to listen to them all. But this is about other “CLASSIC ARTISTS” concerts.
I’ve spent 2 afternoons trying to find 2 quotes I need to start with; I must be looking in the wrong thread (assumed I read them in the HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM thread)(?)
I was thinking about these 2 very profound statements, but please excuse me for I cannot give proper credit to, but they were good!!! Please permit me to ramble on about concerts in general (not just Elvis), but the quotes were something like this (I’m paraphrasing):
QUOTE #1 - What qualifies as a “disaster” show?
Short set, bad/undecipherable language, songs not complete, people asking for a refund, maybe even the artist passing out on stage.
QUOTE #2 – Of all the professional performers (in concert) that you’ve seen, have you ever witnessed anyone on stage in a less than “professional” manor? (the more I think about it…the answer is NO).
Maybe “Disaster” isn’t the proper word…”bad”, certainly “disappointing” come to mind. But with “disappointing” one brings his or her own expectations that may or may not be met.
I’ve seen over 311 concerts. This year I boycotted Fleetwood Mac, The Stones and McCarntey simply because ticket prices (even BAD seats) are too expensive (plus I’ve had the good fortune of seeing them in the past). So Kid Rock comes along (2 Saturdays ago/Burgettestown [Pittsburgh] Pa.) with ZZTop and Uncle Cracker on his all seats $20/all Tshirts $10/all beer $4 TOUR….I’m SUPPORTING that!!!! It was great, I’m not really a Kid Rock fan, but I am now…he is a fantastic performer – not as much rap as I thought (maybe only 2 proper rap songs) but he is straight ahead RnR with more Motown/Detroit/Southern Rock all mixed in (than rap). And his stage has all the 70’s concert shtick that I love: smoke, lasers, mirror ball, confetti, fire (ala KISS) etc. And you can’t go wrong with ZZTop (saw them once before in 1986 at the LA Forum).
So I was thinking of what BAD shows have I seen? It’s hard to tell if you don’t follow a performer (like we do Elvis) if you are seeing a “standard” show or something “above” (or below) the artist’s normal outing. I really can’t judge if 3 Dog Night is having an off night since I saw them in 1982 and again in 2009…both shows were great. I come away with exactly what I was after. There is no need to follow them on tour (like I have with Springsteen or Neil Young) as they just play the hits and that, as an audience member, is exactly what I want. If the Beach Boys came out and did only Spanish Love songs…that would be a “disastrous” concert (interesting though?).
So again, it’s MY expectations that I bring to the concert which helps render a thumbs up or thumbs down performance.
My dad saw a country artist in the 1960’s, can’t remember who, but the performer was drunk and people walked out…the country artist replied, “only the true country fans will stay!”
So this brings up another point. Wouldn’t it be cool if you had George Jones tickets and he was a “no show”? That’s part of his legend! (Actually that’s a bad example, I apologize, and I did have tickets to see George’s Farewell Tour in July 28 [Greensburg Pa].) I saw him twice before at Jamboree in the Hills.
But back on point, isn’t the very nature of seeing The Stones (in the 70’s anyway) “juiced up and sloppy” part of their rock n roll legend? And what about Clapton, Page, Reed, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dog (the list goes on) have any of them been as impaired as Elvis was in Houston that the fans were asking “what’s wrong”? Keith Richards says he’s never missed a gig. What about the Grateful Dead? Did Elvis really take more drugs than they did? Evidently Aerosmith had some pretty ragged shows in the 80’s (prior to PERMANENT VACATION which is when I first saw them and again in 2006). I guess different drugs have different effects.
That CSNY Wembley ’74 show is a bit loose, and remember that VHS show from the 80’s with Crosby just staring out into space…I wasn’t at those shows, but I saw the CSNY2K tour and they ROCKED!!!
Was it a “Disaster Show” when Keith Moon passed out and they got the kid from the audience, Scott Haplin to finish the show? It's what makes up their legend. It was MORE of a disaster when they had to cancel the Boston ’76 show after 3 songs? I think the worst Elvis show has to be the ’77 Baton Rouge, LA March 31st gig where the warm-up part of the show had taken place but “announced at intermission” that Elvis was ill and would not appear. Your excitement level at an Elvis concert is at its peak the moments before 2001 starts, and then to have it canceled…wow that would be disappointing for sure. I’m assuming fans were concerned for Elvis’ health and understanding.
I keep running through my mind…what is the WORST concert I’ve attended?? None were “disasters”, all were very professional. Most every "disappointing" show I can think of has my bias attached:
*I fell asleep at a Ray Price concert…he was smooth, I was coming off a particular intense week at college – out I went.
*Genesis at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh (Invisible Touch Tour) – I was disappointed, no cool effects and an awkward covers medley encore…(when Springsteen ends a show with the Detroit Medley, Wooly Bully or You Can’t Sit Down, you know it was music that inspired him and it’s where he’s coming from. I never got the feeling in ALLLLL of the Peter Gabriel/Progressive Rock career of Genesis that they would need to sing “Satisfaction” or “Twist and Shout”. It seemed like they were just punching a time clock.
*Hank William Jr. 3 years in a row in Morgantown WV. FIRST YEAR (1985) Classic HANK, great 90 min. show, even jumped on the piano ripped his shirt off and fired 3 shots from a rifle – (That’s entertainment!).
-SECOND YEAR (1986) – 90 minutes, different set list, but he changed all the words around so you couldn’t sing along with him…but still Classic Hank.
-THIRD YEAR (1987) – one hour show – he was drunk and pissed off and as he walked off stage he slammed his guitar down. Made for an interesting show – couldn’t really say it was bad or a disaster…completely different than the last 2.
*Kenny Rodgers (comes to mind) saw him on 3 different tours…told the exact same jokes…twice in the same town (Morgantown). I don’t mind the same set list, but have some respect – the coliseum holds 13,000. Morgantown only has 24,000 residents, so half the town was there at BOTH concerts, hearing the same between song banter.
*Lindsey Buckingham (seen him 11 times with and without Fleetwood Mac). Drove almost 4 hours to see him in Baltimore- he only played for an hour and 10 minutes. I was kinda miffed. But the place was small, we sat at tables and were the 3rd table from the stage, it was a solo show and when you are that close to watching a master at work…I’ll take all I can get (but all his other shows were 90-120 minutes long).
*Larry Gatlin (opened for one of the Kenny Rogers shows). He was drunk (and has since dealt with the problem) – didn’t hinder his singing (that I can remember - have 8mm footage). It was after a big football game and half of the crowd may have had a few cocktails too. At the time the local bar scene in town was called SunnySide…and Larry mentioned “loved SunnySide”…guilty.
*Whitney Houston in 1986 had a HORIBLE set list…she sang great but the pacing was all wrong. (There is an art to the set list). There are some Elvis parallels to her later shows.
So of 311 shows those come to my mind as “interesting”. No disasters. Even my beloved Springsteen only did 2.5 hours at the beginning of the Magic Tour (I must have been the only one pissed at that…sometimes his encores are that long). And I saw Neil Young on his OLD WAYS (country) TOUR (Waylon Jennings opened for him). He did 9 new songs that had not been released yet…but you gotta love Neil and go with it, frankly that’s WHY you go see him, he is a great preforming artist! (That can challenge his audience).
Ok, so now I get it, this is the first time I’m going to admit that Elvis shouldn’t have been on stage some of ’76 and most of ’77. It was unprofessional of the management team to put him in that situation. But I honestly was expecting HOUSTON to be WORSE than it was…did he really not know where he was?…in Madison ’77 [Final Curtain] he does ask “where am I?” Nothing happened as mentioned above in QUOTE #1, but it certainly is the worst of the already known sluggish shows from that summer. And from a professional preforming level it should have never gotten that bad.
Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:57 pm
Kind of an amazing post, Brad. Your concert anecdotes are hilarious, and I can go to my grave knowing that I do not have to feel bad about never seeing Hank Williams, Jr. in concert. A few comments ...
brad wrote:But back on point, isn’t the very nature of seeing The Stones (in the 70’s anyway) “juiced up and sloppy” part of their rock n roll legend? And what about Clapton, Page, Reed, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dog (the list goes on) have any of them been as impaired as Elvis was in Houston that the fans were asking “what’s wrong”? Keith Richards says he’s never missed a gig. What about the Grateful Dead? Did Elvis really take more drugs than they did? Evidently Aerosmith had some pretty ragged shows in the 80’s (prior to PERMANENT VACATION which is when I first saw them and again in 2006). I guess different drugs have different effects.
Apples and oranges there ... but out of all of the above, guess who died from drug abuse?
brad wrote:Ok, so now I get it, this is the first time I’m going to admit that Elvis shouldn’t have been on stage some of ’76 and most of ’77. It was unprofessional of the management team to put him in that situation. But I honestly was expecting HOUSTON to be WORSE than it was…did he really not know where he was?…in Madison ’77 [Final Curtain] he does ask “where am I?” Nothing happened as mentioned above in QUOTE #1, but it certainly is the worst of the already known sluggish shows from that summer. And from a professional preforming level it should have never gotten that bad.
You shoulda been there.
Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:33 am
There are a couple of infamous Sinatra shows from 1993/4 where he is tired and/or ill. One was broadcast by Japanese television, with Sinatra like a rabbit in headlights. He was 78, jetlagged, and touring the world was finally beyond him. But still, he managed a better show than Houston. There is apparently another show where his medication was altered and it had a disorienting side effect and he lost his place, sang into the wrong end of the microphone etc. That's 1993, I think. That was, indeed, disastrous but at least it wasn't brought on by himself. The soundboard tape exists but has never been made public even on the bootleg circuit, being suppressed by the fan base.
And read of a Judy Garland biography will show that there were a number of disastrous concerts due to illness, over-medication etc - she failed to turn up, turned up late etc. Her live 1955 TV show is one such occasion. She had taken too many sleeping pills the night before to calm her nerves for the 90 minute special and then literally couldn't wake up. It was touch and go whether she would be able to do the show - but her career would be in tatters if she didn't. The show is out there on DVD, and it has to be said she hides the effects rather well, and after half an hour or so is on decent form.
My friend attended a Nina Simone concert a couple of years before Simone died, and Simone (always unpredictable) told the audience they weren't worthy and that they should f*ck off and left the stage never to return.
And none of the above are rock musicians!
But let's put this thread in context - these shows that you and I have mentioned are the exception not the rule. One-offs. For Elvis from the summer of 1976 until his death, the vast majority of Elvis concerts could be classed as disastrous when it comes to comparing them to what is expected of a superstar. Houston wasn't a single event; it was supposedly the worst show in a long long line of bad shows.
Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:29 am
Ray Charles. Atlanta. Either '79 or '80. He didn't like the piano. Cursing. His performance was deliberately crappy, and brief. I think some people asked for refunds. The group I was with discussed the possibility. We were p'od!
Anybody know of a Ray Charles concert site list?
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Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:45 pm
Switching gears from drugs to AGE...I've been VERY impressed by the "over 60" Rockers I've seen lately. Bruce is still going strong, Neil Young still rocks, Elton's playing is better than ever, he'll go on a 10 minute solo on "Take/Pilot", "Bennie" or "Burn/Mission" and it's different every night. (had tickets for Nov. in Columbus...but HE CANCELED IT LAST NIGHT!!!). Leon Russell is still great...the show he did in the spring here in town WAS disastrous only because the sound system had an annoying buzz/distortion...the musicians were pissed, but professionally carried on. But MAN, the recent footage of MICK Jagger running and prancing looks like it's 1965. As mentioned I boycotted this tour but still love them and was very impressed.
I love McCartney too (that Wings Over America box set was a dream)...but I'm starting to hear the age in his voice...not that it's bad, I just here the age. That's actually working for Bob Seeger and Dylan. But Rolling Stone (I think) ran a photo of Chuck Berry a few years back...he was exhausted and was resting on the keyboards before he could go on in the middle of a show. I never got to see Chuck.
I'm really worried about the day when we'll no longer get to see these legends. They survived the drugs, but...no one gets out alive.
Good to hear from Doc and you guys!!!!