Got Live if You Want It

.. apologies to the Rolling Stones for post title. (Pictured – Wishbone Ash).

I have a couple of shows that for whatever reason I never got around to writing about. Generally speaking, I’ll write about them whether good, bad, or indifferent. In that dilemma of “should I or shouldn’t I,” the thought occurred to me to write about a few of them in one post rather than dedicate posts to each one. This is no reflection on the quality of them. Call it expediency or just plain laziness, but this is what I got (in no particular order):

There’s a place up in Derry, NH I’ve gone to a fair number of times called Tupelo Music Hall. It’s a pretty nice venue, with static auditorium seating in the back and a front section that can be set up as tables. In the past, I’ve seen Billy Gibbons, Ry Cooder, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke, Blue Oyster Cult and Robben Ford there.

A few weeks back we went to see Roomful of Blues, a New England-based 8-piece band I wrote about a while back and who have been active in one configuration or another since 1967. Wikipedia refers to their genres as blues, jump blues, boogie-woogie, R&B, swing revival, jazz-rock, jazz-blues and that about sums it up.

While I don’t see nearly as many tribute bands as Christian, the Undisputed King of All Tribute Bands, I see my fair share. I never did see Floyd (minus Waters’ Wall extravaganza) and the odds are pretty good I never will. So I will have to settle for Brit Floyd, an offshoot of Australian Pink Floyd.

Wikipedia: “Brit Floyd originated in 2011 on the initiative of musical director, guitarist, and singer Damian Darlington “simply because he felt he could do it one better” than his previous band, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, and stating that “there is much more attention to details in every aspect of the show, from the music to the visuals to the lighting: everything is that much more perfected and there’s a passion coming off that stage… It’s a coherent, emotional journey through Pink Floyd’s catalog.”

The Boy and I went to see them at a venue called Lynn* Auditorium. I had a reasonably good idea of what to expect as Down Undah Floyd shows up on public television every time they want to run a telethon to raise money. This because, I reckon, they figure that boomers have all the money and can only be tempted to cough it up by being bribed by some variation on their favorite bands.

Anyway, this was an outstanding show from beginning to end with great gobs of The Wall, Dark Side, Meddle, etc. You also will never see Pink Floyd together again so I suggest that if you have anti-tribute band thing, get over it, go and close your eyes.

Here they are doing “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” from Animals:

Another venue I like to attend is in Beverly, MA which has a nice venue called The Cabot. (This suburban town manages to have not only a good music venue but a pretty decent theater that shows Broadway-quality musicals. Contrast that with my own ‘burb’ which has shopping and whose motto is actually ‘How Nice.’)

This show goes back to, I think, last year when we went to see the mighty Los Lobos, a band I’d wanted to see forever and about whom I wrote here. Los Lobos does rock and blues and Tex-Mex and does them all exceedingly well.

All that said, I recall having had a bad day for whatever reason and try though I might, could not get into them as much as I wanted. (It doesn’t help that they’ve been taken over by Deadheads who wait to the end and start doing their strange, quirky little dances.) I will see them again one day.

I wrote about Wishbone Ash a while back, a band that memorably I last saw on a bill with Elton John likely before most of you were born. I kept hearing them on satellite and thought to myself, geez I wonder exactly when they broke up?

Well, not! They are a British twin-guitar sort of prog-leaning band who have been active only two years fewer than Roomful of Blues. (Yet light years away in sound and style.)

I believe that guitarist Andy Powell is the only original member of the band. I caught these dudes at a small venue called the Bull Run where I’ve seen far too many bands to remember. While I enjoyed the show, I think it was around this time I started developing a certain ennui about seeing live bands, something I’m going to talk about in a follow-up post.

Alas, my videos, while good in quality, are brief. So I’ll post a gig from last year in Paris:

I wrote about jazzman Wynton Marsalis not too long ago. We went to see his ensemble at Symphony Hall in Boston, a cathedral to music I haven’t entered since seeing the Boston Symphony Orchestra lo these many years ago.

Wynton was performing with his Lincoln Center Orchestra not with some hot four-or-five piece band. And I don’t know if it was their respectfulness to the venue or what but for whatever reason, the ensemble never really caught fire. They’d give a little speech about a song, then they’d play it, everyone would solo, then they’d give another little speech. In some ways it felt more like a recital than a concert and maybe that’s what it was. Good, but disappointing.

Contrast that to how the same orchestra sounded when they played Live in Cuba. Now this – this- is what I wanted to hear. Denied!

Despite some people thinking that Chicago should be slotted into being their mom’s favorite band, I prefer to think of them as that hot horn-driven band that really knew how to cook.

How were they live? I don’t know. I didn’t feel like going to some big fucking venue to see them or I missed them or something. So we went to the Bull Run and caught a tribute band called Introduction: The Chicago Experience there. (The Bull Run is a mixed bag. Great shows in a setting that feels like a wedding reception. You will inevitably wind up at a table with a guy who looks like your uncle regaling you with how many times he saw Hendrix. Or how great Woodstock was although we all know it was really kind of a fiasco.)

*Lynn, a city about 11 miles north of Boston, has some notoriety in the Rolling Stones saga. On June 24, 1966, their brief set ended when they left the stage during a storm at the (now-demolished) Manning Bowl stadium. Angry fans broke through barriers, prompting police to use tear gas, and the Stones pledged never to return to the city. Contrast that with the placid, Disney cruise ship-like audience of the show I just saw and I say bring on the fucking tear gas.


28 thoughts on “Got Live if You Want It

  1. Great post. There’s a few venues ‘locally’ but most of my gig vists have been in London, though I’d always rather see a band up close than stadium distance away. I’ve only seen a few tribute bands – Led by Zep were good, One Pound Jovi (student union bar days) not so…
    Oddly enough there’s a big tribute band festival happening in the park my place backs on too soon – – with acts like Fleetwood Bac, Just Floyd etc. Might wander past and see what I can hear.


    1. Zap! Bloody hell! I KNEW there was another band. Completely forgot. The Boy and I also saw a tribute band named Kashmir, which at least makes me the prince of all tribute bands .

      You should definitely wander past. The handful of tribute bands I’ve seen have all pretty much gotten it right.


        1. Foreigner I could live without. They are like Journey for me -bland, innocuous arena rock. But Cheap Trick would be worth a listen. Curious – what do Kentish Men do for music?


        2. well Kentish Men make their own with cider jugs and upturned barrels. Men of Kent make use of the quick journey time into the capital or the increasing number of local venues – though I haven’t seen live music since the boy was born so I may be out of touch. We have a few local festivals – nothing to rival Glastonbury etc but there used to be one called the Hop Farm Festival which attracted the likes of Young, Waits and Dylan (not at the same time) and Margate is increasing in its pull of bands.


        3. I see. So your Kentish Men are somewhat equivalent to, say, our West Virginians who prefer to marry their first cousins (but only if their sisters are not available.) How touching.

          Amazingly, Glastonbury has been going on seemingly forever. And yet, the original Woodstock promoters – now just about one month away from the anniversary date – can not get their shit together enough to land a site or even start selling tickets. And they’ve paid the acts! In advance? Have they learned nothing?

          When their appeal for a venue was rejected, the other day they played the “love/peace” card which barely worked in ’69 much less the age of Trump/Farrage. And your personal hero, Boris Johnson.

          “We regret that those in Vernon who supported Woodstock have been deprived of the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of the rebirth of a cultural peace movement that changed the world in 1969 and is what the world needs now. We want to thank the artists who stood by us.” Sure. Name one.


    2. Ok, this is so fucking unbelievable I figured I’d share it here since we’re talking about ‘live.’ I had passed on seeing Santana/Doobie Brothers at Xfinity Center amphitheater just ‘coz I was weary of spending money.

      Get this – I got an email about 20 minutes ago from the Xfinity Center saying, basically,”We haven’t seen you for a while and would like to offer you a couple of free tickets.” I thought fuck, to what – Taylor fucking Swift? But one of the choices was Santana/Doobies. I couldn’t believe it! They gave me a code, I plugged it in – and I got two free tix. Not front row of course but really, who gives a shit? Amazing


        1. Yeah, I’m just fucking stunned. Already got the tix on my phone. Carlos is my hero. Third time for me. And while I like the Doobies I’ve never seen them. Christian just posted a new live album they have and it’s pretty hot. Much beer will be consumed

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Wow, that is friggin awesome, Jim!

          Maybe I should carefully suggest the same to PNC Bank Arts Center, a nice Amphitheater outdoor venue where I must have seen at least 10 shows over the past 3-4 years. 😆

          Among others, this included Santana and the Doobies, in addition to the Allman Brothers (one of their final shows!), John Fogerty, ZZ Top, Steve Winwood, Steely Dan, Buddy Guy… Anyway, you get the picture!😀

          When’s your show?


        3. See, you went too often. The secret (it would seem) is to go a bunch of times then mysteriously disappear. Then they miss you. 🙂

          This blows my fucking mind. It doesn’t even make any sense. The show is 8/20 and that’s plenty of time for them to sell the show out. My wife – to my surprise – said she wants to go. (She doesn’t go to as many shows these days.) So given that it’s free, I can now use that money to pay for VIP parking and wildly overpriced beer and food. Hmm. Wait a minute!

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Sounds like a brilliant plan, Jim!😆

          Nice your wife’s coming along. Mine usually doesn’t accompany me, since our music tastes are different. But there are exceptions like Hall & Oates in September. In fact, she saw they are touring and said she wanted to go!

          And, yes, I should target a venue I haven’t frequented as much.🤔

          Yes, such places do exit!😂


        5. My wife was for many a year my concert companion. Our tastes are not exactly the same but they are close enough that we could enjoy bands together. She will still go to some stuff (Los Lobos, Wynton Marsalis, Rickie Lee Jones, etc.) that is not in her sweet spot, typically finding something to enjoy even if she doesn’t know the songs. She was with me at Roomful of Blues but she’s seen them a million times too. She trusts my taste enough that she knows no show will totally suck.

          But then I think she realized she’d mostly had enough of that scene. She’s in perfectly good health, just can’t be bothered with the crowds, the traffic, etc. She’s just about as big a Springsteen fan as I am and yet didn’t go with me last time because she didn’t feel like dealing with Gillette stadium. Plus she’s seen him now six times and doesn’t feel like one more time will add anything. And frankly, at four hours, she would be asleep halfway through. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        6. Okay, after half a dozen times, I would agree your wife “has earned the right” to pass on The Boss. 😀

          I’ve seen him twice now, same as McCartney. If the opportunity arose, I think I would go to each one more time.

          With Springsteen, I think there’s reason to be optimistic. With Sir Paul, I don’t know. He just finished a major tour that bypassed places to which I would have been willing to travel. So I guess we’ll have to see.


        7. How dare you say that six times is enough for Springsteen! You are hereby banished from this site for .. the next ten minutes. Go to a blackboard and write “There is never enough live Springsteen” and then you can come back.

          As to Sir Paul, I suspect he’ll be back in our neck of the woods. If I were you I would save my Deutsche Marks. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Good stuff, Jim. There’s just nothing like seeing live music. And while I still don’t get deterred by big venues if it’s an artist I really want to see like McCartney or The Stones, small and midsize places undoubtedly can be great, more intimate settings.

    I‘m glad you got to see Brit Floyd. They are truly remarkable. An American Floyd tribute called Echoes are pretty good as well, but I would say Brit is a notch up.

    That Chicago tribute band you included sounds great as well. I’m with you, btw, I generally dig horn sections. 25 Or 6 To 4 and many of their other early songs are outstanding.

    Last but not least, that blues band sounded great as well.


    1. As I think I mentioned on your site, I’ve seen McCartney exactly once about 3 or 4 years ago. I hope he swings back this way so I can take the Boy. Brit Floyd blew us both away for sure.

      As to Chicago, alas they are in the “big venue” setting but it’s possible. I think they are a great, great band, wimpy songs notwithstanding. As to Roomful, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen them going back at least 30 years. The poor lead singer kept trying to get people up to dance but nobody wanted to.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. OMG. The McCartney concert was actually 2009. I had to look that one up and I recognize it as he started with ‘Drive My Car.’ PS, be sure to read my original comment to Tony

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I just posted this in a conversation I was having with Tony. Unbelievable. But true!

      Ok, this is so fucking unbelievable I figured I’d share it here since we’re talking about ‘live.’ I had passed on seeing Santana/Doobie Brothers at Xfinity Center amphitheater just ‘coz I was weary of spending money.

      Get this – I got an email about 20 minutes ago from the Xfinity Center saying, basically,”We haven’t seen you for a while and would like to offer you a couple of free tickets.” I thought fuck, to what – Taylor fucking Swift? But one of the choices was Santana/Doobies. I couldn’t believe it! They gave me a code, I plugged it in – and I got two free tix. Not front row of course but really, who gives a shit? Amazing


  3. That clip of Los Lobos cooks Doc. I seen them when they first came on the scene (a few times since). They can play everything but I do like it when they rock. Steve Berlin on sax and keys started with the Blasters. They are a great band. I hear you on the Marsalis gig. Have to be in that right mood for that. Never seen Roomful which is weird because I caught all those bands back in the day.
    I might drop my “live” take this weekend. See how it plays out


    1. I have to see Los Lobos again. They didn’t have an off night – I did. They come around here a lot, probably 3 or 4 times a year. I will definitely be more with it. Really, one of my favorite bands. Marsalis and his group played tight. But it was all so stately. Compare it to that terrific Cuba album. Love that Latin shit. Roomful seems to mostly tread the New England upper NY State boards these days, with occasional forays to the Great White North.

      I’d enjoy reading your ‘live’ take. I have a couple of other things in mind to post but I definitely want to get to my “attitude” on live music

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Totally random. My son has been playing with this Instagram fave called FaceApp or something, all the rage. It’s s fun thing that you can use to make yourself look older, younger, bearded, etc. So he snapped my pic with his phone. I usually hate my pics ‘coz they all look like mug shots. But I liked this one and so decided to use it on social media. That’s about as involved as the story gets I’m afraid..

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice. I think I mentioned over on my own blog a while back that we saw a Stones tribute called, appropriately enough, The Glimmer Twins. They changed my mind about how good a tribute band can be.


    1. Oh, yeah. I don’t traffic in them much but I haven’t seen one I felt like I’d walk out on. I think these bands know they have to nail it or they’ll get hammered. There’s a Stones tribute band called Blushing Brides who have been around for 40 years. Not quite as long as Mick and Keef. But still. I think they play mostly New England and Canada.

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