Hey Detroiters, Noel Gallagher’s coming to the Royal Oak Music Theater in March

18 11 2011


I got my tickets already.  This should be a great concert.  The Royal Oak Music Theater is a great place to see a show.  There’s not a bad seat in the house and there’s a decent bar there, with service even to the main floor.


James Brown on the T.A.M.I. Show

19 07 2011

I heard it mentioned a hundred times in the song “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around,” but I had no clue what the T.A.M.I. Show was.  In fact, I thought it was about someone named Tammy Show.  Then I found the DVD by accident in the local library and made the connection.

The T.A.M.I. Show was a 1964 concert held over two days in the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and was recording in what was groundbreaking “electronovision.”  The concert was then released on the big screen.

It’s hard to find an adjective that’s not overused these days.  I try not to overstate things.  But there is no other way to put it that this film is incredible!  Imagine a concert these days with the starpower of the equivalent of these artists, many of them who were still to peak:

  • Marvin Gaye
  • James Brown
  • The Supremes
  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Miracles’
  • Chuck Berry
  • Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas
  • Gerry & The Pacemakers
  • Lesley Gore
  • Jan & Dean (who emceed the show)
  • The Barbarians

Besides the musical artists, there was an amazing backing or house band, apparently known as the Wrecking Crew, and there was a bevy of young dancers.  The story goes that both Terri Garr and Toni Basil were in the dance corps.

There really were few lows in this show.  I found that I didn’t care for James Brown’s “Please Please Please” which seemed to go on and on and on.  He played this little bit of pretending to fall to the ground sobbing, only to be helped up and off the stage by his bandmates, who draped a king’s robe over his back.  He would then throw off the robe and saunter back to the mic.  People with probably a lot better musical taste than me think James Brown’s performance was one of the best ever captured on film.  I found it cheesy and goofy in spots.  Other than that bit, though, he was …well…James Brown.

Marvin Gaye, the Miracles and The Supremes all represented Motown beautifully.  I watched Marvin’s “Can I Get a Witness” several times; I didn’t want it to end.  He was such an amazing talent and, for me, the best on that stage.  Smokey and the Supremes showed why the lit up the charts for years.

The Rolling Stones were absolutely superb.  At that point, though, they had not fully defined their own sound.  They still had that feel of a (great) cover band.   If you’re a Stones fan, the TAMI Show is a must-see.

I was fascinated to see both Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas and Gerry & The Pacemakers, if only because I had heard so much about their part in the so-called “British Invasion.”  They were, after all, Liverpudlians (some of them) and friends of the Beatles.  I had heard their songs but had never seen more than a few seconds of footage from either group.  It is cool to see bands like that that have become little more than footnotes in rock history.

The Beach Boys showed themselves to be a more-than-adequate 4 piece band.  They were never the greatest musicians as individuals, but they held their own in that concert.

Chuck Berry’s one of my all-time favorites.  It’s sad he only got 2 1/2 songs while Lesley Gore, who performed well, had double that.

Jan & Dean were a bit annoying.  Someone re-wrote “Catch A Wave,” put lyrics to it about skateboarding, and talked them into singing it at the show.  Bad decision.

The Barbarians were interesting.  With their long bowl haircuts and high energy rock, they were sort of a Pre-Ramones (or maybe the Ramones borrowed from the Barbarians.)

If you can get your hands on the DVD or watch it streaming, do it! It’s a highly entertaining great piece of rock history.

…everybody had a good time…

27 11 2009

Over the years, Macca’s solo renditions of Beatles’ classics have gotten bigger — bloated really — for stadium shows.  All polish, no grit.

But here Paul straps on his guitar and gets after it with his 2009 touring band on the highly underrated Beatles tune “I’ve Got A Feeling.”  This performance has all the balls of the original and retains the feel of a barroom blisterer.  There’s no sense that this was performed by arena-ready hired guns.  It’s as if Paul was back on the roof with the lads.

I’m stunned at how good this rendition is.  There’s one major downside: Abe Laboriel, Jr. (badly) singing John’s middle eight.  Isn’t there a better singer in Paul’s band?

The concert I’d like to see

28 04 2009

As much as I love music, there are very few concerts these days that come to town that I really would like to see.  If I could put together this show, I would.

One of my favorites is Paul McCartney.  In the last ten years or so, he’s kind of falling out of favor with me.  I’ve not wanted to go see any of his shows and I don’t think I’ve actually paid for one of his albums in that stretch (although Chaos and Creation in the Backyard and Memory Almost Full are quite good.)  I didn’t care to see him play the Super Bowl a few years back and I didn’t have much interest in his recent gig with Ringo in NYC.

After watching some clips of his performances at Coachella, the Concert for George a few years back, and the “Change Begins Within” show, I’ve had something of a change of heart.  I’d love see Paul perform live.  Here’s what I would change, though.

The shows have all been heavily dependent on backing bands and heavy production.  The concert for George, for instance, had sets with multiple guitarists, bassists and drummers.  Get rid of all that stuff.  It’s too much clutter, too much noise, too slick.

Hand Paul a bass and plug him into a stack.  Get Ringo behind the drums.  Maybe get somebody like Eric Clapton or David Gilmour to play guitar.   Perhaps that’s too ambitious.  Find great lead and rhythm guitar players, some young gunslingers if necessary.  Put them in a 1,000 to 2,000 seat place, charge a grand per ticket and let ’em rip.  They could play old rock tunes, maybe stuff like the Fabs used to play in Hamburg.  Of course it should be recorded in hi-def audio and video and packaged for sale.

No overdubs.  No synthesizers or keyboards to recreate strings and horns and such.  Bare bones production.  Just rock out!

I know this will never happen.  But “it’s all part of my rock and roll fantasy.”

Great concert, lousy charity

5 03 2009

It’s all over the news that the two surviving Beatles, Paul and Ringo, are “reuniting” for a benefit concert in New York.  The charity this concert will benefit is the David Lynch Foundation which teaches kids to meditate.


Here’ s my take.  I’m glad to see Paul and Ringo will play together live.  It’s hard to imagine that being a bad thing. But the charity, to me, is so uninspiring.  I know that Paul and Ringo are free to back whatever charities they like, but given the current economic and environmental problems facing our country (the world as a whole), I wish they were playing to raise money that would help needy folks and/or some environmental cause.  Put it this way, if I were inclined to see the show, I wouldn’t be seeing it so money could be raised for kids to meditate.  Want to feed kids with that money?  Great.  I’m there.

Maybe it’s not a contradiction, but it’s certainly interesting that Paul and Ringo were the two Beatles who were the least interested in meditation when the group was under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s spell.  Paul and Ringo were the first to leave the Maharashi’s ashram during the Beatles’ stay in India in 1968.  Now, if George were alive and raising money for this type of thing, that would make a bit more sense to me.

Whatever the case may be, hopefully the music will be made available to the public.


Sting, Cobo Arena, March 14, 1991

12 02 2009

In the late 80’s, I really started getting heavy into the Police. I loved them in the early 80’s, but I didn’t have the money to buy their stuff; I taped them from the radio when possible.

Sting put out Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, two albums which meant virtually nothing to me. When they were released, to my ear at the time, those album weres too mellow. Even now, those are damned good albums but they seem a bit pretentious; Sting masquerading as a jazz musician.

Sting’s third solo album, Soul Cages, was released in January 1991, while in was in college. By that time, I was moving away from hard rock as my primary source of music, exploring other styles. Soul Cages worked for me immediately. I thought it was great, played it over and over and just had to see Sting when he came to town.

I got a chance on March 14, 1991, when he brought his band to Cobo Arena in Detroit. I went with some friends but we couldn’t get tickets together, so I sat by myself…in the second row! It was a great show and I had a great time. It turned me into a huge Sting fan for the next few years.

I thought I was clever in sneaking in my $25 point-and-shoot camera. I got some shots which, at the time, seemed great. They’re quite lousy, actually, but I’m glad to have them nevertheless.

A few things stand out about the show. Concrete Blonde opened. They were an up-and-coming band at the time. Vinx, who probably would’ve never gone anywhere professionally had Sting not pulled him out of the clubs, sang, “I’m Dreaming of a White…” wait for it… “girlfriend.” The whites in the audience loved it.

Sting and his band were great. They played Soul Cages album to the note and threw in a few Police and earlier Sting songs.

The moment that most stands out is when the spotlight went on a pair of fans that held up a sign that read, “We Know You’re 39!” Sting read it out loud, crinkled his nose and said, “Who gives a fuck?” It did seem like an odd thing to put on a sign, after all.

I saw Sting probably 2 more times. That show was fun if for no other reasons than I sat so close and got some pictures.