Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Live in concert

I got in the car this afternoon and, tired of the same old stories, decided to switch the radio from NPR to one of the music presets. The station was playing a song by Blues Traveler. After dropping some letters at the post office, I got back in the car, and this time they were playing the Dave Matthews Band. Which reminded me that years ago I saw Blues Traveler and Dave Matthews Band in concert. Together. It was a really terrific show.

Which got me thinking about all the concerts that I have been to. There are many who have seen the same band more times than the sum total of all the concerts I have attended, but I've seen quite a few. And having only mentioned one on this blog, I thought I'd do a run down of a few of my favorites.

First and foremost has to be U2. I've seen them four times, first in 1992 when four of us took a road trip from Salt Lake to Phoenix so we could see the Zoo TV tour at Sun Angel stadium in Tempe. I saw them again five years later at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, and once more five years after that at Notre Dame University.

But the best U2 show was in 2005 at what is now Energy Solutions Arena. We had general admission tickets, and for this show there was an elliptical fore stage that allowed randomly selected concert goers inside the ellipse, mere feet from the band. Lucky for us, my friend Curtis had one of the random tickets, which meant everyone in his group got to go inside the ellipse. It was fantastic. The only disappointment was that there was a girl who was "selected" from the "audience" to go on-stage and dance with Bono during "Mysterious Ways." I found out when I watched video of the Chicago show that the same girl was selected at that show for the same task. I guess they wanted to make sure that the person was 1) safe and 2) could dance.

The love for U2 in our family runs deep. My wife has been with me at two of the four shows. I made a CD of my favorite U2 songs that we listened to when taking my youngest home from the hospital, as I wanted to make sure that U2 was the first music she was exposed to. My older two children often ask me to sing them to sleep to "Running to Stand Still."

Another favorite concert is quite a departure from U2, but it still ranks up there. A couple of years ago, Rachel and I went to see the Boise Philharmonic when they were performing Beethoven's 9th Symphony. I loved it. I wish I remember the name of the guy who came to sing with the philharmonic that night, because he was really good. It was good enough that when we got back out to the car, I put in a CD of the 9th, just because I wanted to listen to it one more time.

I mentioned when talking about the RUSH concert that the best instrumental performances I have seen were Axle Rose playing piano and Tom Scholz on the organ. One of the most memorable songs I have seen was "Kashmir" at the Page Plant concert back in the mid 90's. They had the Heber Valley Symphony playing with them and went on for about 20 minutes. It was wonderful.

Shows that were memorable because of their uniqueness include seeing The Origin at the now defunct Speedway Cafe, seeing the Gin Blossoms and Toad the Wet Sprocket play together at the Fairgrounds (and almost getting kicked out during the Gin Blossoms for crowd surfing), and being hot and filthy but still having a great time watching Alice in Chains play during Lolapalooza.

After U2, the band I have seen the most is Oingo Boingo, having been to three of their shows, including their farewell tour. Oingo Boingo was also my first concert, at the ripe old age of 15.

Actually, I take that back. Oingo Boingo is second to U2 in terms of paid concerts. But while in college, Curtis and I were effectively the roadies and lighting guys for a band called Randall Blithers. We helped them put on shows at Utah State and Snow College, were doing their special effects (incidentally, they were the only band doing special effects) when they won battle of the bands at the Wilk, and spent many, many weekends building stages, taking pictures, and whatever else needed to be done for the various shows around Utah County.

We even hung around at the studio and pretended like we were producers or actually knew anything when they recorded their first (and only) album, which I still have, and which features my brother and some of his friends on the cover. We thought they really might be going somewhere when we helped them score a live spot on one of the popular morning shows to promote their album, but the guys in the band decided to do practical things like go to grad school instead of taking advantage of the one time in their lives when they could risk a couple of years to live the dream.

Of course, no discussion of concerts would be complete without mention of the bad ones. Worst concert I have been to without question was Sting at Parkwest/Wolf Mountain/The Canyons/Whatever it was called at the time. He played for like an hour then walked off stage 'cuz he was cold. What a chump. I don't care if you are the biggest fan of The Police in the entire world--Sting is not The Police, and the concert still sucked. Put on a freakin' jacket, for crying out loud.

Most of the concerts I have been to were in the 1990's. In fact, I have averaged about one per year during the current decade. Pathetic, I know, but it doesn't mean there aren't acts I still want to see. Top of the list has to be The White Stripes. In addition to being huge fans of their music, Rachel and I also feel an otherworldly connection to the White Stripes because Jack White has a major obsession with the number three and a minor one with the number seven, and Rachel and I are both the third of seven children and we have three kids ourselves. Weird, I know. But not as weird as having seven kids just to make it complete. We're not going there. How our parents did it remains a mystery.

I'd also love to see Coldplay, especially since Viva la Vida is their best work yet.

Concerts that would be cool just for the spectacle even though I wouldn't count myself as a huge fan of the music (or even a fan in any way shape or form in some cases) include Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, and Neil Diamond. Yeah, I know, Neil Diamond. But my parents have seen him a couple times, and from what I hear, the shows are really something else.

If you've read all this and are still wondering why I didn't write about cycling today, it's because I hadn't ridden my bike for three days until this morning, and then I went out and tried to climb Bogus Basin road. I did alright for the first thirty minutes, made it to the sign in decent time, and then had absolutely no legs at all. I tried spinning for a while just to go easy the rest of the way to the top, but I realized my heart wasn't in it, so I didn't bother and turned around 1000 feet from the top. That Perpetuum is going into the rubbish bin. Give me Carbo Rocket, Gatorade, or Coca Cola. But Hammer nutrition is worthless.

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