Aplscruf's Music Blog

Top 10 Live Shows

I thought I’d take a moment and share my top 10 favorite live shows.  Some are very specific by date and venue, and  some are by artist only.   This will change over time, I’m sure.  And after looking it over, I left out a few, such as The Rolling Stones in 1994.  That was a spectacular show, but it was in the Kingdome, and the band was about 1/4 mile away.  Didn’t really feel the love.  We saw Bruce Springsteen a few years ago, and I felt the same way.  Great, energetic show, but we were looking down on them from afar.  The lucky few hundred who got to be right against the stage, now they had a show to remember!

[You can also view this post and other reviews and features on Randomville]

Anyway, on with the list (all pics taken by me except Jimmy Buffett below):

Jimmy Buffett

10.  Jimmy Buffett – The man has paradoxically built an empire on the Margaritaville philosophy!  I’ve only seen him once back  in 2003, but was thoroughly entertained.  The show was pure fun, with hula girls, tiki gods and fire dancers.  And the Parrothead audience was a spectacle in itself.  He brought along a slew of veteran musicians and singers.  If you’re lucky enough to go to his show, his lead guitarist for the night might be Will Kimbrough, a talented musician, singer/songwriter and producer who has also collaborated on several songs with Jimmy.  You can forget all your problems for two hours Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays!

The Paperboys

 9.   The Paperboys – The Vancouver-based Paperboys have been lifting people’s spirits with their high energy shows for 16 years.  The eight-piece band plays in small venues in BC, Seattle and Portland, and captivates the audience with their joyful, upbeat and very eclectic music:  Mexican, Canadian, Celtic, and Reggae soup.  They make quarterly appearances at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard.

8.   Ryan Adams – – Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA January, 2008 – I smiled until my cheeks hurt.  Ryan brought along The Cardinals and tore the place up with songs from his album, Easy Tiger, along with many greats from his prolific song library and a few covers. He’s such a quirky character and a comedian, too–a sad clown.  The rest of the talented band seemed patient and knew when to wait for him to calm down, light his cigarette, have a little chat with the audience, etc.  I loved the train-wrecked Ryan, back when he could write a soul-crushing, alt-country song.  Glad he sobered up and married a pop star, because you know after the divorce, the songs will be good again.   

7.  Brent Amaker and the Rodeo Foot-stompin’, belt buckle-wearin’ cowboys in black.  The lead singer dons a red cape, has a stripper assistant and sounds like Johnny Cash–with a potty mouth. Campy country at its best.  A Seattle treasure.  Catch them at The Crocodile, The Sunset and other small venues throughout the year. 

Brent Amaker

6.  The Gourds Texas and Louisiana, sex and religion, country and rock, bluegrass and Snoop Dogg all rolled into a mandolin, violin, banjo, and accordion.  Their shows feel like an old-timey revival in the Deep South.  I get more salvation from their shows than I ever did in church.  The band’s motto: “For The Unwashed and The Well-Read. “  They’ve been featured at SXSW, Austin City Limits, and are regulars at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard, WA.  Yes, they’re the ones who covered Snoop’s “Gin and Juice” on mandolin.

The Gourds









5.  Old 97’s – Alt-country/rock, Texas-style.  Sweat, spit, roaring guitar riffs, and a faithful audience that knows all the words.  There’s even a glossary on their website if you need help understanding the lyrics.  See them LIVE one time, and you’ll want to follow them around the country.

Rhett Miller of Old 97's





4.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Anywhere!) – Tom and the band are American Icons.  Just go see them—anywhere.  The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA is a beautiful place to sing along to “Free Fallin’” while the desert sun sets behind the enormous stage.

3.  Todd Snider and the Nervous Wrecks at The Nugget, Sparks, NV 2009 – Wrecktacular.  The whole package.  Comedy, Americana, Folk, and Good Ol’ Rock-n-Roll.  And Will Kimbrough (the man gets around) on screaming, other-worldly guitar solos.  Todd’s solo show is also worth seeing.  He’s a Nashville transplant, originally from Oregon and plays the Northwest once or twice a year.  He can spin a yarn like no other.  Just get him started with stories about Slash or Garth Brooks, and you’ll think you’re at a stand-up comedy show.

Todd Snider and Will Kimbrough

2.  Sir Paul McCartney at The Tacoma Dome, WA 2002, – I was too young to see him when he visited Seattle in the 70’s.  To hear him play not only Wings songs but Beatles tunes with an incredible backing band, priceless.  And the show was a gift from my boss.  I pulled my hair, grabbed my face and screamed like it was 1964.

1.  Tom Petty with Mudcrutch at The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA 2008 – Tom, 10 feet away.  My Musical Messiah–my Jesus of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  He smiled at me (ME!) and I was saved.  I can clearly remember standing there near the stage saying, “I can die now; my life is complete!” Tom reunited his old band (pre-Heartbreakers) and played a few gigs, mostly at The Troubadour, to support their new album.  Tom and the band, which included Mike Campbell on wicked guitar, seemed relaxed and happy.  No big light show, no grandstanding, just a regular band out to enjoy themselves and connect with the audience.  TEN FEET AWAY!

Tom Petty and Mike Campbell

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Jimmy Buffett, Music, Old 97's, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, The Gorge Amphitheatre, The Gourds, The Paperboys, The Tractor Tavern, Todd Snider, Tom Petty, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back in the US…Back in 2002

Sir Paul McCartney, Back in the US Tour

Tacoma Dome

October 19, 2002

[ I recently transferred old documents from a dead computer hard drive and discovered some journals I thought were lost.  I’m not able to copy them, so I printed them out and will retype and try my best not to edit too much.]

And He Shall Be Crowned King of Rock and Roll

I just witnessed history.  I saw the best concert of my life, of this century and last.  I saw Sir Paul McCartney.  Elvis is dead.  There is a new King, and his name is Paul!  Long Live the King!

Way back in June [2002], there were rumors that Paul would play in the Northwest.  If my memory serves me, he hasn’t played here since the 80’s and before that, it was 1976.  There were pictures in the newspaper of people lined up outside the Kingdome in their sleeping bags waiting to either buy tickets or be the first ones in for festival seating.  I wished I were there, too, but I was only 12.  When I heard he was coming again, I knew I had to go, no matter what the cost.

Well, the cost was steep.  Tickets were $55-250.  I wanted $250, but P said no way.  Luckily, he said this in front of everyone at work, which spawned an amazing series of events.  First, two days before the tickets went on sale in July, my bosses called me in their office and asked if I still wanted to see Sir Paul.  I said I did, and they offered me the company credit card to pay for the tickets, full price!  I cried!

The morning I was supposed to purchase the tickets, I was so nervous.  I went to my own account on Ticketmaster and proceeded to botch things up.  I changed the account info to read my boss’ name and card, but unfortunately the info did not change for 24 hours.  The info defaulted back to my own debit card and address!  I didn’t realize it until P checked our checking account balance the next weekday.  He [was not happy] and I lost a whole night’s sleep wondering how I was going to explain this to my boss.  I called her the next morning and she cut me a check.  I called the bank, since we didn’t have enough in our account to cover it at the time.  It came to $530.00!  Then came the waiting.  The tickets did not ship until a week before the concert, in October.  I didn’t think they would ever get here, and I thought I might have botched things up further, and they were cancelled!  I was constantly checking my account on Ticketmaster to see if they shipped.

About two weeks before the concert, my bosses asked me where I was staying in Tacoma.  I told him P reserved a room at the Sheraton.  They kept asking questions about dinner, etc.  Finally, they made an announcement in front of everyone and told them I was staying at the Sheraton, but not paying for the room, I was going to dinner at C.I. Shenanigan’s but not paying for it, and a limousine was taking us to dinner and the concert, picking us up afterward!  I cried again!  I was shocked, and very grateful.  What an incredible bonus!

Finally, the day of the concert arrived.  I was so nervous that my heart was palpitating.  It had been all week.  I don’t know why I was feeling like that, except I guess I wanted everything to go perfectly.  Also, this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see one of the greatest rockers of all time!  A Beatle, for crying out loud!

First we stopped at Southcenter for a little shopping.  It turned out to be a 2 1/2 hour ordeal, with me being the one dragged about, while P shopped and tried things on.  He did find some nice slacks and shoes.  I felt so bad because I was so nervous.  [Looking back, I realized I was having a serious panic attack and was really on the verge of passing out at one point!]

We arrived at the hotel around 3:30.  I jumped in the shower and calmed down.  We ironed our clothes and found our limo driver waiting for us downstairs.  We spoke with the limo service rep before getting in.  He told us that his company got to pick up Paul at the airport about 1:30 am that morning.  I asked if he personally got to meet him.  He said no, just the security guards.  Apparently, Paul was staying at the Four Seasons in Seattle.  He was then going to arrive any minute via police escort down I-5!  What a sight that would have been…like royalty! 

I felt so cool and a little like royalty getting into the stretch limo.  When we stepped into the limo, though, I was sad that no one else was joining us.  We asked P’s brother and sister-in-law if they wanted to come, but they had other plans.  Anyway, we were dropped off at the restaurant overlooking Commencement Bay.  Real nice place, relaxed atmosphere, and incredible seafood.  After a couple cosmopolitans I felt much better.  P had seared ahi tuna and I had a wonderful halibut.  We downed some creme broulee for dessert and then found our driver waiting for us.  It was only about 6:30, and the concert didn’t start until 8:00.

We decided to see if there was any fun place to stop for another drink before the concert.  He dropped us off at a place called The Vault Bar and Grill.  We walked up to the door and the woman there said, “Are you with Jeff and Tina or the Browns?”  We should have said, “Yes!” but instead said we just wanted to go to the bar and get a drink.  She said it was a private catered party.  Meanwhile, our poor driver was trying to find a place to park.  We spotted him on the other side of the street, stopped at the light.  We ran across the street and hopped in!  People must have thought that was strange.

Then P told him to go ahead and take us to the Tacoma Dome.  I told P we didn’t have to be there until almost 8:00, so then P told the driver again to stop at another bar.  The driver did find an interesting place he said was a newer bar, but he had to turn around (again) up the next block. 

We walked inside-it was called the Hotel Bar and Grill.  It was a quaint brick building with high ceilings.  We found one of the only small tables left and ordered drinks.  About the time the waitress left, P was broadsided by a guy.  Slam!  Right into the side of him!  I looked at the guy, shocked by his obnoxious behavior, then in an instant realized it was our old college buddy we hadn’t seen in about 12 years!  Another friend was with him, as well as two other guys we didn’t know.

They asked us to join them after hugs and lots of laughter.  It was surreal bumping into them, out of all the bars in Tacoma.  Our friend lives up the street from the Tacoma Dome, and they were intending to walk to the concert from the bar, which was only a few blocks away.  Our other friend bought a round of drinks for all of us, then we asked them to please join us in the limo.  They were very grateful, and thought that would be fun.  We were so glad we ran into them. 

We gabbed the whole way to the concert, then told them to meet us at a particular bench afterward, right outside the dome.  They agreed.  We didn’t really think we would see them again, but it was worth a shot.

I was really getting excited now, but at least the palpitations were gone and I could relax a bit.  It was easy to get into the dome.  A security guard quickly took a flashlight to my purse.  I told him I only had binoculars.  No problem.  They also were quick with the tickets.  They now use a bar code reader instead of having to rip the ticket stubs off.  So, in we went.  We still had about 20 minutes to kill, and I guess the concert was running late.

We decided to get another beer to share and some water.  The lines were long and slow.  By the time we went to the restroom and then got the drinks and got to our seats, it was just about to start.  I could not believe how close our seats were!  I figure we were about 50 feet away, just off diagonal from the stage, left side and 5 rows up from the floor.  It was perfect because we could see over everyone’s heads.  The people on the floor stood most of the time, so they would have to crane their necks to get a good view of the stage (unless, of course, they were in the front row, but even then it would be difficult to see all the video screens).

The lights dimmed and everyone roared.  There were notes posted in the outer halls regarding the entertainers needing room to walk down the stairs, as the opening act was interactive.  I thought, “Oh, great.  Now we have to sit through some weird act, then wait through an intermission before he even comes on stage!”  Luckily, that wasn’t the case.  

There were weird people moving down each aisle.   They were dressed in 17th century costumes; the men wore long, colorful coats, the women were in hoop skirts and huge white wigs.  One woman even had a small ship atop her wig!  Loud, rumbling drum beats and synthesizers were playing in the background.  It was a strange, haunting, rhythmic noise.  On stage, the video screens showed psychedelic images, or themes, such as Greek columns, and out came some girls dressed in togas, posing like statues.  Then the theme changed to Asian, and a group of dancers came out with large hoop costumes and writhed around while a ‘floating’ meditating man went by.  There was Atlas, lifting the world weights, a female contortionist squeezed in a clear box, ballerinas doing strange dances and throwing themselves across the stage, little jesters, people carrying balloons, four feet in diameter, with blue sky and clouds painted on them.  The entertainers all had their faces painted a ghostly white, like clowns.  There was a man in a black suit and top coat wearing a derby cap and carrying an umbrella.  A stiff wire was somehow attached behind him and arched over his cap.  Hanging in front of his face on the wire was a green apple.  Apple Records!  I got it!  This wasn’t the opening act, this WAS the act!  I got excited then and started screaming.

The sound grew louder and more frantic.  The dancers became frantic too, and flung themselves around in feigned confusion.  Finally, a big screen came down and the dancers parted.  Behind the screen was a gigantic silhouette.  Everyone screamed!  It was a larger-than-life guitar, and then Paul’s silhouette with his guitar held above his head!  I screamed and started crying!  I became a true Beatlemaniac!  I beat P’s arm that night until he was almost bruised.  I grabbed my hair, I squeezed my face, I screamed and cried, just like the images on the giant screen of the Beatles concerts from the sixties!  I couldn’t believe my dream had finally come true!

Paul opened with Hello Goodbye (You say yes/I say no/You say stop/And I say go, go, go!).  I was thrilled!  He wore a basic long-sleeved red shirt with black slacks and black blazer that didn’t stay on long.

I heard he was going to mix some old Beatles tunes with Wings and solo songs from his new album.  Here is a huge list of songs he played.  I brainstormed after the concert, so they’re not in order.  [He has since put out a CD and DVD of the show which has basically the same order as the show in Tacoma]  He played for almost 3 hours!

Hello/Jet/Let Me Roll It To Ya/She’s Leaving Home – from Sgt. Pepper-another of my faves/I Saw Her Standing There – lots of Beatles pics from back in the day-everyone bounced around to this one/Back in the USSR – pics of old USSR, goose-stepping armies, leaders, etc./Let it Be/Band on the Run/Lady Madonna – pics of famous and not-so-famous women in a slide show/Something – He first told how George loved the ukulele, and he gave one to Paul that he used for this song.  He said while visiting George’s house, George would bring out the ukuleles and the guests would all sing along and play.   Tons of still photos of George were on display on the screens while Paul played Something as a tribute to his life./Maybe I’m Amazed – with perfect guitar accompaniment/Long and Winding Road/Live and Let Die – with heavy pyros – shooting fireworks, hot fire flashes that we could feel from our seats, fireworks bursting from the top of the stage!  When it was finished, Paul shook his head, rested his elbows on top of his piano and looked petrified!  he then patted his heart. /Blackbird – dedicated to the “birds”– black women suffering the injustices of the South during the 60’s/Can’t Buy Me Love – with A Hard Day’s Night movie clips and photos-I really screamed with this song, grabbed my hair, shook my head around!/Yesterday-I think he used the same guitar he used on the Ed Sullivan show to do this song.  He held it up first before doing the song – I cried!/All My Loving/Eleanor Rigby/Tribute to John Lennon/My Love – Tribute to Linda, and one of my favorite Wings songs/Driving Rain (new solo)/ Freedom – written for the 9/11 concert in NY, with a gigantic banner of the Statue of Liberty/Every Night/We Can Work it Out/Carry That Weight/Fool on the Hill/Here There and Everywhere/Nature Boy/Coming Up/Michele/Hey Jude – went on forever with Nah, nah, nah…/Someone’s Knocking/Ending to Sgt Pepper…and in the end, the love you take…is equal to the love…you make – ending the 30+ song set with two encores!

I sang along to most of them, except for the newest ones.  We had some pretty old people around us, so it was hard to get too wild.  I didn’t want to make anyone around me not have fun, too!  So we had to sit most of the time, but I was on the edge of my seat grabbing P or my face!  I would jump up after every song to give a standing ovation.

Paul would always hold his guitar up in a sort of conquering fashion, then hand it over to the roadie and receive a different guitar.  I don’t know how many he used-maybe 10 or more throughout the evening.  His beautiful bass guitar was shaped like a violin.  I also think it was one of his originals from the 60’s or at least the same maker.

Another thing I really enjoyed was how he interacted with the crowd.  I’ve been to some concerts where the singer would say hello, then introduce the band at some point, and that would be it [Bob Dylan comes to mind, Paramount 2006].  Paul managed to interact through the whole evening.  He would read signs around, such as: “Show us your feet!”  He said, “You know, I’m up here trying to concentrate on my words and trying to play my guitar and not mess up, then I look down and I just have to read the sign!  And no, my feet stay in the shoes tonight!”  Everyone laughed. Another sign said, “It’s Gloria’s 50th birthday!”  I think he even sang a quick birthday tune for her.  He called us Tacomalians and Seattleians in his Liverpudlian accent. 

He also told a funny story about getting massages at all these fancy hotels in which he stays.  He had a bad experience in Louisiana where a male masseuse told him to do weird things, like pretend his leg was a hollow brass tube, and his neck was like a giraffe’s.  Then he asked Paul what he felt like.  He said, “Oy feel loyke a giraffe wid ay ‘ollow brass leg!”  Laughs galore.  He said, “I’m only telling this story because I’m hoping someone knows that man and will tell him to stop!”

Then he said this one time when he was in Japan (everyone cheered and whooped), and he said, “Not THAT time!” referring to the time when he was busted for pot possession and was jailed for 9 days.    He said this more recent time a Japanese lady told him to “put towel down on floor, get on floor, on stomach.”  He did, then said she stood on him to massage his back.  He could hear her singing very quietly, “Yesterday…love was such an easy game to pray…” only he said it with a falsetto Japanese accent and everyone roared! 

He also had nice things to say about John before his tribute song (which included the words, “I love you” in the song).  He said how everyone wishes they just said one more thing to those people who passed away, just one more time to say what you feel.  He wrote the song right after John had been killed.

He came out for two encores.  I savored every minute, knowing that it would probably be my last time I would ever see him live.  I was in absolute awe of his energy, his song selection, his backup band, his charm, his Beatleness.  I was so happy to hear songs that he said he never played in public, such as Sgt. Pepper songs and songs from later years (they stopped touring after the 1966 shows).  It was so nice to hear the songs played so close to the originals, with a full band, synthesizers, etc.  Sometimes I like variation and jamming, but with the Beatles songs, I wanted to hear them as they were on the albums, as I remembered them.  The guitarists did an excellent job staying true and harmonizing as John and George would have done.  The drummer stayed true to Ringo’s sound and added his own touches.  The keyboardist (part of his original Wings band) did the rest and kept the sound alive and true. 

I really can’t get over how amazing this concert was.  I’ll never see its equal.  It’s all downhill from here!  There is absolutely no comparison.  Paul truly rules Rock-n-Roll!  Long Live Paul!

August 4, 2010 Posted by | 2002, Music, Paul McCartney | , , , | 1 Comment