Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Top 10 Concerts

Of course I saw many memorable concerts in my gig going days, including odd, but enchanting experiences like seeing a purely by chance concert with the somewhat obscure '70's band Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks when my sister and I chanced upon a Country Fair on a trip through Topanga Canyon one day; Led Zeppelin, The Jam, Blondie, Patti Smith, etc., we saw many of the most significant bands of the era, But the gigs that remain encased in the amber of my memory are as follows, presented in approx chronological order:

1. David Bowie, The Long Beach Arena, March 10 '73

This concert was March '73, and was a continuation of the Ziggy Stardust tour begun in late '72. The gig was memorable because it was my first big concert, I was 17 at the time, and I wrote about it in my high school newspaper,

"the evening started with a fantastic light show...Bowie then came out wearing a gleaming (space age) outfit that tore away to reveal a slinky white pants suit, in this guise he belted out "Hang on to Yourself", and "Ziggy Stardust." ...Highlights of the evening include the ...eerie..."My Death" (the Jacques Brel tune)...plus two stunning encore numbers, "Jean Genie" an outstanding rocker...and the hauntingly beautiful "Rock n Roll Suicide."

David Bowie is one of the great geniuses in popular music, IMO, and Bowie's distinguished 4 decade long catalog has only solidified my opinion of his genius.

2.. Iggy and the Stooges, Whiskey, '73

The Stooges played 5 nights at the Whiskey in June/73, (they also came back in Sept. for another 5 nights) on the strength of Raw Power, my sister and I went the first night, and suffice to say that I thought that the Stooges were incredible enough that I made sure that Joan and I went each night they played. I found this clip, sound only, for the 6/16/73 Whisky show,

3. The New York Dolls, Whiskey '73

Loud, sloppy, and fantastic--I loved the Dolls. The way they dressed knocked my socks off, sure Bowie had worn women's clothing, but had he ever worn 4" spike heeled drag queen sized pumps onstage like David Johansen? I loved the way that Syl posed right at the edge of the stage, and, the way David spoke at the beginning of a song, "When I say I'm in Love, you better believe I'm in love, L.U.V!" Some music you love from your teenage years can sound terribly dated decades later, but not The Dolls, if anything, I love their tunes even more now. A clip of the Dolls doing "Vietnamese Baby" at one of the Whiskey gigs has been found--my sister and I can be seen bobbing to the music on the left side of the clip in front of Syl, http://tinyurl.com/4qprctt

4. Slade The Hollywood Palladium '74

Clearly Working class, and traditionally masculine despite the clownish glam outfits, Slade were certainly not elegant like Bowie, or Bryan Ferry, their music was aggressively heavy in a way that seemed out of step with the popular glam bands of the time, apparently Noddy Holder and Co. had been part of a late 60's skin head scene (I have no idea if this incarnation was Nationalistic or whatever, but there are photos of the boys with shaved heads circa 1969 out there) Slade was a natural precursor to punk, not to mention that they kicked ass in concert.

5. Roxy Music, The Hollywood Palladium '74

I loved Roxy Music although in a way they are an outlier band for me--I sort of hate some of the more effete glam bands from the era like Sparks for example. Anyway, Roxy Music were great, they were wearing Khaki military uniforms as I recall, all the kids from Rodney's were there too. Already wheezing, in a year or so, with Rodney's closed, and Bowie moving on to funk and other musical influences, the glam scene would breathe it's last...

6.. The Damned the Starwood April '77

The Damned were the first exposure that LA had to British Punk in the flesh, and this concert and their first album remain in my top favorite punk efforts ever! From the gig I remember Capt Sensible in the buff with all of his pink bits hanging out, and Jake Riviera ranting onstage that all Americans were too fat! Musically I thought that the band sounded tight, and since I had practically worn the grooves off of Damned Damned Damned I knew their tunes, so all and all the gig was extremely rewarding, and cemented my taste for punk.

7. The Weirdos, The Starwood '77

The Weirdos always struck me as a tight band with great songs, when I saw them Nicky had already joined as drummer. I wrote about those first gigs for "/ The Fanzine fo the Blank Generation";

"The Weirdos are simply the best thing to emerge from the dull LA scene since the Stooges lived and worked here...Visually The Weirdos play it straight New Wave replete with Johnny Rotten hairdos, & plastic and paint splattered clothes...the most distinct member of the group is...John Denny who is a study in dementia. Denny's performance can only be likened to a controlled nervous breakdown..."

8. The Ramones, The Whiskey, '77

I remember a hot sweaty night on the small dance floor in front of the stage when The Ramones played The Whiskey, the audience moved as one in wild enthusiasm. The band was tight, the tunes fast---as I later wrote to a pen pal, "The Ramones are the Coolest live."

9. Elvis Costello at Hollywood High, June, 1978

EC was already on his way to becoming a commercially successful rock artist, so even then this unlikely booking was a treat. As I recall my friend James, who had gone to Hollywood High, procured the tickets for the lot of us. Costello was skinny, and wearing a natty suit for the occasion. All of the Hollywood Punks were in attendance, so the gig was a big social scene. Costello and band sounded great of course, one of my strong memories is getting a drink in the Lobby, & chatting with James while "Pump it Up" throbbed in the background.

10. The Weirdos, Variety Arts Center, Los Angeles, 1988

The perfect book-end to my best concert going experiences--over a decade after first seeing the Weirdos I went to see them one more time. The thing with me is that, right or wrong, I prefer not to see bands once they start getting older, I tend to think that once bands get to the "reunion tour" stage that they really aren't the same band if you know what I mean. At any rate, we, I went with my friend Meredith, and my companion--we were all in our 30's when we went to this show, and so were the band--but the Weirdos still sounded great, and the tunes held up. Rhino 39 and The Dead Boys played this gig too, but weren't memorable to me. Rather hilariously, to me and my companion, is that as staid adults, we had elected to take in the concert from the balcony, but Meredith, rather bravely since the pit had long since become comprised of mostly males playing it rough, made straight for the mosh pit, and we didn't see her again until the end of the thing!