Classic Concerts – My Top 5
I've been really fortunate over my radio career to see a great many concerts. My friend, Pat McClure and I were talking once about the groups we got to see back in our younger days and his wife, Carol expressed a certain amount of envy over the names we dropped. So, I thought I'd write about my TOP 5 Classic hit concerts.
This list is one part "wow are they great" and one part "I can't believe I was there". It's not so much of a list of the best sounding groups I ever saw as it is a list of the total experience.
So, Let's go back a few years, you and I. Let's start in 1967-
Simon and Garfunkel-Jones Hall-Houston, Texas
This was not your typical rock concert to say the least. At the time, Simon and Garfunkel did not tour with any backing musicians. On the stage were two microphones, two stools and two guitars. That's it. S&G came out to thunderous applause and proceeded to hold the SRO crowd in hushed amazement for about two hours.
One thing that truly stood out in that show, other than their flawless harmonies, was the amazing acoustic guitar playing of Paul Simon. There was, as was the case with most folk acts, a great deal of very witty patter between songs.
I'll tell you how good they were. Starting after the second or third song, they received a standing ovation after every song. Glad I got to see that!
The Yardbirds-Beaumont, Texas
The Yardbirds are better known for having Jeff Beck, Jimmy Paige and Eric Clapton in their line-up during the many incarnations of the group than they are for making hits. The group was touring with Brian Hyland (Sealed With a Kiss) Bobby Hebb (Sunny) Sam the Sham and the Pharohs (Little Red Riding Hood) and heading the bill was Gary Lewis and the Playboys. I seem to recall the Yardbirds going on fairly early in the show since they had fewer hits. But what I remember most was the Yardbirds line-up that night. I saw this concert during a period in Yardbirds history when both Beck and Paige were in the group. It's my understanding that this line-up lasted about two weeks while Paige was about to take over for Beck. Other than that I don't remember much except for the fact that they all looked very dirty and they played "I'm a Man" for 20 minutes. Who cares? I got to see Beck and Paige!
The Who-Tommy-Hofheinz Pavillion -Houston
It was my second time to see The Who. We had all read in the Houston Chronicle that The Who would perform "Tommy" in it's entirety and nothing else. There would be no encore and no other songs would be performed. We were also informed that following their Houston performance of "Tommy" that the group would perform it a few nights later in New York and then cease performing the entire work.
The Chronicle article was partly right in that "Tommy" was retired for a few years. However, we were all treated to a few songs from their upcoming album before they began "Tommy". The only song I remember is "Won't Get Fooled Again".
Seeing "Tommy" performed by The Who was one of those concerts where you not only knew you were at an EVENT. The performance itself was amazing. Keith Moon was a blur on the drums. Daltry's mic-aerobics and Townsend's windmill guitar strumming and leaps didn't seem to distract the always stoic John Entwistle in the least. That's a show I'd love to see again.
The Beach Boys, Chad and Jeremy and The Lovin' Spoonful - Jones Hall, Houston April 1967
What can I tell you? I don't know that I really heard much. It wasn't really about the performances of the groups. It was more about the time and place. Granted, it was nearing the end of the innocence of the early and mid 60's but that period was far from dead.
At the time, the Beach Boys and the Lovin' Spoonful were two of the biggest acts in America. The Beach Boys "Sloop John B" was flying up the charts and they were just coming off a huge string of hits that came before. At that time, only The Beatles were more popular world-wide.
The Beach Boys came out and lifted the crowd out of their seats. The energy coming off the stage was electric. The Beach Boys could do no wrong that evening and Carl Wilson's stinging Fender guitar and the well known Beach Boys harmony were amazing. From the opening notes of "Fun, Fun Fun" to their encore "Sloop John B" they had the crowd in the palm of their hands.
Strange to think that while they were on stage that night, back in California, Brian Wilson had begun work on the album that the Beatles later confessed, "scared them." Pet Sounds" was about to shake up the music world in a matter of weeks.
The Buffalo Springfield, MacDonald Gym-Beaumont
The short lived Buffalo Springfield. What a shame that a group with so much talent had only one hit. When you think of what they went on to become after they split, it's even sadder.
Like Van Morrison, I had heard that if they were getting along, they were great ; if they weren't they were sloppy. They obviously were not getting along when I saw them. Neil Young almost got into a fist fight with some guy right before the show so he was in the best mood possible.
To see Neil Young and Stephen Still sleep-walk through their show was really disappointing. Young was in a particularly foul mood. He stopped the show at one point and wouldn't play another note because someone spilled water on the stage and he wanted it mopped up.
The rest of the show featured the Beach Boys (again) who obviously were not thrilled about playing a concert at 2p.m. on a Sunday. They pretty much ran through their half hour and departed.
Also on the bill was The Strawberry Alarm Clock. I don't remember a thing about them except for the fact that "Incense and Peppermints" sounded pretty much just like the record.
Despite the fact that , musically speaking, it was an awful concert, I did get to see Buffalo Springfield. Later when Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young came out I realized just how important Springfield was.
So, there you have it. Those memories and $7.50 will get you a drink at most bars, but I am so glad I got to see some of those legendary acts. It was quite a time, my friends. It all seemed so important then.