WHAT I'M AFTER IS TWO THINGS: What was the first concert you ever went to and what was the best concert you ever saw. They don't have to necessarily be stadium shows or anything but at least something like a few hundred people. Could be a state fair or the like with an over the hill type of band.
FIRST SHOW: OK, so I did not see the show that that poster is for but the first concert I ever went to was during Ozzy's first solo tour, for "Blizzard of Oz", in 1981 (just under six months before Randy Rhoads died in a plane crash). It was fantastic. (The concert, not Randy Rhoads dying in a plane crash). My friend won tickets on WLUP and we had 5th row seats at Poplar Creek. I luuuuv me some old Black Sabbath but other than his first solo album I never listened to any other Ozzy again. I don't feel like I'm missing much.
(Funnily enough one of my sister-in-law's first concerts was seeing Ozzy later in the same tour, in 1982, less (fewer) than one week after Ozzy bit the head off a bat in Des Moines. When he played at the Assembly Hall in Champaign he made it through two words before collapsing and being taken to the hospital. Rock and roll.)
BEST SHOW: Well, I know it could be a tough decision for a lot of people but mine is pretty clear cut. It was seeing the band Love, touring and playing their ultimate classic album "Forever Changes", in it's entirety, in Dublin in 2003. Now Love is not my favorite band or anything but the setting and the historic nature of the show increase the sentimentality and take it beyond all the others.
(I say historic because the band effectively only existed for about three years, only had three albums of note, and for a few different reasons they hardly ever played outside of L.A. Add in the fact that they went about 35 years between their glory years and their re-emergence, with the lead singer Arthur Lee having spent a number of those years in prison, and it made the news of their reuniting all the more amazing.)
I happened to be in Ireland on vacation at the time so I didn't actually go all that way just to see them but I was on the west coast of the country and drove about 4-5 hours just to see them. (Technically it wasn't "Love" but Arthur Lee who was backed by a band called "Baby Lemonade".)
Love is seriously underrated. Not only have many people never heard them but people also don't know anything about the influence they had. From the fact that Jim Morrison said he only wanted The Doors to be as big as Love (sorry, can't find a link but it's true) to the fact that the classic riff of the Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd mega-classic "Interstellar Overdrive" is based on the Love cover of Burt Bacharach's "My Little Red Book" (Which Bacharach apparently hated, but I love), (You can totally hear the similarity. "My Little Red Book" goes "dun dun dun dun dun dun-ta-da-dun dun dun-ta-da-dun-ta dun" and "Interstellar Overdrive" goes, more slowly, "dun dun dun-ta-da-dun dun dun-ta-da-dun"), to the fact that their song "7 and 7 Is", which came out in 1966, is sometimes considered to be the first punk song ever written.
Anyway, the show was completely insane. Arthur Lee was in fantastic shape, and voice, considering he was almost 60. (I saw him again at the Park West a few months later and he was not in such great condition) I expected an older crowd but the majority of the 400 or so people there were relatively young (younger than me) and they seemed to know all the words to every song from an album which came out in 1967 and were singing along very loudly.
Arthur had been released from prison not too long before this time and the song "Live and Let Live" with it's bridge "Served my time, served it well" and the last verse of "The Red Telephone" with the haunting words "I want my freedom" (starts around the 4:50 mark) repeated over and over brought chills that I can still conjure. He also ended the show with a mash-up of "Everybody's Gotta Live" and "Instant Karma".
Yeah, maybe not the finest Who album of all time and Kenny Jones is no Keith Moon but at least I can say I saw The Who in their first final farewell tour, the It's Hard tour, at the Rosemont Horizon in 1982. Got scalped tickets, 48th row main floor, $25.00)
Believe me I understand how unlikely it is to put a tribute band into a category like this but that's the way it is. One of the best shows I ever saw was a Genesis tribute band called "The Musical Box" doing the entire "Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" album. I think it was either at the Vic or the Riv, can't really remember which. I figure about 1% of people reading this are even familiar with Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. It was kind of so crazy that if all you know is Phil Collins-era Genesis you can't really imagine how crazy (and great!) it was. Luckily, you don't have to imagine it because it's right here.The show I saw (with the blessing and original costumes and slides of Genesis) was incredibly, absurdly awesome. People were freaking out it was so fucking awesome.
BONUS SECTION: Where I just tell you about smaller bands that I like that played often in the Urbana/Champaign/Savoy tri-city area:
Two of my favorite bands that played locally down here with some regularity back in the day were Chicago based bands involving Leroy Bach. (Before he went on to play with Liz Phair and Wilco (from '97-'04)). Uptighty was so fun and great. Fantastic rhythms and horns and singing. Like anywhere from 6 to 14 people on stage at any given show. (Here, lookit) Personal favorite though was a band called 5style, or 5ive Style. No singing, with Leroy on bass, John Herndon on drums, often Jeremy Jacobsen on organ/other stuff, and the coup de gras, maybe my favorite guitar player ever, Bill Dolan, who was just so ridiculous I can't describe it. (Behold) (He was also in Heroic Doses which was pretty freaking awesome. They didn't play but a few times down here but. I think they only had one album (which was on sub pop))
Of course I have mentioned this before on other RRRRs but the greatest band to ever come from Urbana-Champaign is Lonely Trailer. They've been around for close to 30 years. After an extended break starting in the mid 90's or so until the early-mid 2000's they are back. Just unbelievably great. I can't find any links to do them complete justice, but here's one anyway. Ok, here's another. You maybe can't tell how great the drummer is. He is also the main singer. The drummer is the singer! I'll just say that they opened for the Pixies once and it's a crime that they haven't been able to make a living by playing music. The album pictured above (which you could listen to and/or buy here) is their new album. For me, in a good way, it sounds so remarkably similar to their older stuff that if I didn't know better I wouldn't know better. The addition of a keyboard player when they re-formed has worked out very nicely.
Of the slightly bigger name variety, probably the best show I ever saw in Champaign was The Flaming Lips at the old Blind Pig just before "Transmissions From The Satellite Heart" came out. (They played here other times as well, but you don't forget the first time you hear "When Yer Twenty-Two". LOUD.)
And one more band that used to play somewhat regularly in Champaign was the punkish/bluegrass then later more straight-up bluegrass band out of Austin, the Bad Livers. They pretty much ruled for a couple years but then refused to play at the Blind Pig anymore because the owner was a complete dickwad.
SO LET'S SEE, WHERE WAS I? Oh yeah. Now I'm fully prepared to be occasionally disheartened by some of the young whippersnappers on here who will either name some band I never heard of or possibly some band that I have heard of and it will make me feel sad, but that's ok. I can handle it. I won't judge. So, what's the first show you saw? What's your favorite show you ever saw? Tell me.