Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Long September: Counting Crows Concert Review. And Neil Diamond, and Jimmy Buffett. And more. Make me stop talking, will ya?

Have I told you about the Ryan Layton Concert Series?

Well, my brother Ryan likes his music live, when he can get it. My parents, not so much. So when Ryan wants to go to a concert, Jake and I take him. My parents get the tickets, and they don't have to go. They think it is a good deal. So do I. I am not sure how Jake feels, exactly, but he is a good sport.

Ryan (left, above, with bro-in-law Andrew, at Versailles last year) might be mentally handicapped, but his taste in music is not impaired. He leans toward the oldies, though. And the oldies, as their name suggests, are aging. So I figure, we need to go see them sooner rather than later, before somebody slips a hip.

We have seen some great acts. Some, not so great. I think the worst was Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, who looked like he stroked out maybe 10 years ago. But then some brainiac had carted him out on tour, and plunked him down in front of a keyboard on a stool. I think he couldn't stand up without falling over, so the keyboard was a sort of prop to mask the not-too-vertical vibe he was giving off. He didn't play the keyboard. Even once. And then, I'm 90% sure, he lip synched. He had this huge back-up band, who were really wailing "Good Vibrations," and the sound was great, but poor Brian's chest barely rose and fell. The sound was just too huge to be coming from poor Brian's broken body.

He opened for Paul Simon. I think Paul picked Brian for the opening act, to either: 1. help Brian pay his hospital bills, or 2. make himself look young and spritely in comparison. Because, he did look spritely. Paul was FANTASTIC. Course, he's like my absolute favorite song writer of all time. But seriously, he had maybe 30 people on that stage, playing all sorts of crazy instruments. His percussion section was bigger than most bands. And he didn't stop moving the whole time. Bouncing, like high impact aerobics, while singing. 'Twas one of the very best shows of the RLCS (Ryan Layton Concert Series), thus far.

Who else have we seen? Don Henley, and then later, all of The Eagles (Ryan's favorite). James Taylor, Neil Diamond. Let's spend just a moment on Neil Diamond (or Needles to Diamonds, as Ryan used to call him, when we were children). Neil had a cool rotating stage, so his older-lady fans could see his sansa-belt pants and shiny, sequined shirt from all the angles. He had a Stevie Nicks type to sing with him on his Barbara Streisand duets like "You don't bring me flowers." He had some cool 70s moves. He had the 60-year-old ladies on either side of us bawling like a babies and screaming during "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show." Which is a great song. My eyes could have been a tiny bit moister than usual. Maybe. But, see, I'm a fan of The Early Neil. The Boat that I Row, Shiloh, You Got to Me, Sweet Caroline. That sort of thing. Not so much after that. Unfortunately, since his voice has degraded, he covers the fact with lots of instruments, and The Early Neil is mostly gone for good, I think. My Mom is a Speech Therapist, and she said in school, they used poor Neil as an example of how not to sing. He has had many surgeries to remove nodules from his vocal chords. And it just doesn't sound the same. But the crying baby boomer ladies didn't seem to care. Ryan either. He was in heaven. Jake wasn't as thrilled.

One of my favorites was Jimmy Buffett. I've seen him twice, actually. Once with Ringo Starr and James Taylor in Tucson. Everyone else I knew was at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe that night, seeing U2. (1992, I think.) Not me. Jimmy totally stole the show. From a Beatle, people. Course, it was Ringo. But everybody was there to see Jimmy. Seriously, if you haven't been, you should go. And wear a parrot hat, a coconut bra, or a shark suit, if you want to fit in. You might even decorate you car like a tropical 4th of July float, if you want to tailgate for like 6 hours before the show. But don't get grass seats, unless you like secondhand grass. I learned that lesson early on, at the Cranberries/Toad the Wet Sprocket show. Cousin Melanie is allergic to pot, and started sneezing, wheezing and swelling out there on the lawn. Anyway, for a good time, call Jimmy Buffett. Seriously. I think we'll take Ryan back again when he comes to town.

The inaugural show of the RLCS was was back in, oh, maybe 1993? Ryan and I went to see the Gin Blossoms at the Mesa Amphitheater and stopped at Filiberto's for some rolled tacos afterward. Jake wasn't around. Maybe he was off gallivanting in the Philippines. Someday I'll post about all the Gin Blossoms shows I've seen, but alas, this is not that day. Don't be sad.

Anyway, Ryan was getting antsy, because we hadn't seen any shows in a great, long while. So I heard about this Counting Crows/Maroon 5/Augustana show, and I thought, hey, why not. Even though Ryan doesn't know who they are.

It was last night.

We missed Augustana. We heard them as we walked in, but they were walking off stage as we took our seats. I was a little disappointed, cause I like some of their songs.

Maroon 5 was sort of fantastic. The lead singer has a great voice, in the same vein as the Vienna Boys Choir and Michael Jackson. I used to think he was pretty hot, but then he did some weird effeminate hands moves. So, now I don't think he's so hot, but we can still be friends. Like he probably is with Jessica Simpson. The lead guitar was fabulous. Seriously, that guy plays better than any inactive Mormon, Eddie Vedder look-alike, that attended my cousin Hailey's play once, that I've ever seen. I'm not lying to you.

I am going to say that the Counting Crows were mildly disappointing. The crazy-haired lead singer? He looked toasted at the beginning. Totally out there. He seemed to sober up over the hour they played. And you know how he sorts of sing-talks sometimes? Last night, he talked more than sang. Which bugged. You know the best part? When Augustana came out and joined them on Rain King. It was extra fabulous, people. Really great. And remember, I hadn't gotten a good gander at Augustana yet.

They are worth gandering.

They look like some European type fellas went up into the Alps or somewhere for like 6 months, and forgot to bring a mirror, an extra shirt, or a washcloth. Or food. They are skinnyish. And at first you think: EEWWW. But then you look closer, and you think, hey those kids might be good looking underneath the filthy knit caps, creepy girly haircuts, and 6 inch long beards.

And they were! Look at this picture from 2004! Cute as buttons, they were!
A year later, somebody was already sporting the knit cap. But still, undoubtedly, some fine looking lads!

So sometime since, they decided against razors and scissors and what-nots, but bathing was still on the agenda. See below:

I could not find any photos that really capture the greasy look from last night. Just picture Grizzly Adams, in harmony. They sounded great, anyhow.

Here is Adam Duritz with Augustana and the Dashboard Confessional guy singing Rain King. It sort of gives the idea. There is a you tube clip of the song from the concert about a week ago, but the sound is so bad, your ears bleed. So this one is better:

Next up in the Concert Series is the State Fair. I vote Goo Goo Dolls, Jake votes Weezer. I also vote for deep fried twinkies. Anybody want to come along?

We've also got some dream shows we'd like to see: Simon & Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, Abba, and Bread. Some are more likely than others, obviously.

As we walked out last night, I asked Ryan: "So what was your favorite part?"

"I liked it when the (Maroon 5 singer) guy threw the guitar and broke it, then gave it to the lady in the audience."

He continued: "So, when are New Kids on the Block coming?"

Oh, boy. Who told him about that? I'm not sure that's going to be part of the RLCS, if I have anything to say about it.

So, what's your best show ever?
Your dream show?
Ever seen any of the acts in the RLCS?
Anybody want to fight with me about Neil Diamond?


Jolene said...

Kelly, I am totally going to be aging myself in this comment so don't judge me or make fun of me okay?

I used to go see the Gin Blossoms all of the time in the late 80's at Long Wongs on Mill Ave. The lead singer lived in an apartment above my older brother on University and McClintock. Those were the days. For some reason my parents did have a problem with me hanging out in bars seeing totally stoned bands because I was with my brother.

My best show was probably Dave Matthews at Cricket Pavilion in 2005. I don't love them but Alan does and Susan Flake and I surprised our husbands with tickets. We went out to dinner and when the waitress brought back the receipts after we paid, the tickets were in there. That was fun and the concert was amazing. There was a lot of second-hand grass and boozing going on around us but the band played for almost three hours.

I remember my first concert was the Thompson Twins at Mesa Amphitheatre in 1983. I even remember the outfit I wore and how uncool my friends and I felt when a guy in line to get in made fun of us for getting dropped off by my mom.

I think I could talk Alan in to going to the state fair - he has never been. I vote for Goo Goo Dolls and egg roll on a stick.

nevadanista said...

I've seen Neil Diamond on his rotating stage too, and I love a good old fashioned cyber smackdown, but I'm not sure what there is to fight about in this case - maybe next time. I like the early Neil too, and I haven't followed any of his music at all since about 'Love On The Rocks'. I read last week that he offered a refund his last show because his voice was so horrible, he could barely sing a note.

The best show I've ever been to was Keith Urban. I took my girls to see Carrie Underwood and he happened to be on the same ticket. I was completely overwhelmed, and in a Keith Urban haze for about a week. I will never pass up his show again if he's within 3 hour driving distance!

In the fourth row at a Van Morrison concert at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, the man sitting next to me took out his bag of pot, dug out his zig zag, and rolled a joint. He lit up, took a long drag, and then offered it to me. It was tempting ;-), but I managed to pass on the opportunity, and so the joint went to the woman on the other side of him, and the on and on and on.

One of my dream concerts is happening next weekend - Al Green and Gladys Knight. Unfortunately, I don't think my dream will come true this time :( We saw Al Green earlier this year and he was fantastic!

Your brother does have great taste in music - the 'oldies' are where it's at!!!

Molly said...

Your brother is the best, he is so funny. I will go to the fair with you guys, not for the concerts but for the food of course. I think you should take Ryan to the New Kids on the Block, I think they're coming in November or something, you'd have a sweet time I bet!!

Heather said...

Hey don't knock the New Kids! I remember jamin' to them back in the day!! :)
My hubby loves Pearl Jam, we have seen them a few times. Our friend works for Coca Cola and got us tickets to see Billy Idol a few years ago.
About 10+ years ago at the fair we saw the B52's & Nirvana.
That is so nice you take your brother to concerts going to free concerts isn't so bad!

Renae said...

I love me some Neil Diamond. It takes me back to belting out the tunes in the back of the mustard yellow Datsun Dasher. (some of us were crammed into the trunk space, but the sound was better back there anyways ;) When I was 17 I saw Tanya Tucker (don't laugh) at the fair way back and she was totally drunk and cussed her head off. Then Justin and I saw U2 twice together. Loved it. No Doubt opened for them and they were fantastic also. I had no idea that the drummer was gradually strip off his clothes through out the show. Yikes!

Brigham said...

Molly, don't act like you're not sure when the New Kids are coming. Mom told me about their fan club president calling the house looking for the money you owe them.

Sherrie said...

My best show was Motley Crew! Ya I know I didnt even want to go but didnt want my boyfriend to go with one of his friends so I said I will go if I have too! It was awesome and after the concert Nikki Six got arrested! So that makes it obviously a great show! And I too have seen Neil on the rotating stage. It was I will say mid '90's and he rocked it!!!

Shellie Shell said...

Kelly I especially loved this post. That sounds like such a great time with your brother. and I'm jealous you got to go to a cranberries concert. I really like them. As for the Augastana its crazy to see those pictures on how they've changed. I love that greasy not washed look on musicians. I use to think Maroon 5 guy was hot too but I don't anymore and I've really never understood why but then after I read about how you saw him doing the hand moves I think thats what I probably saw him doing and my subconscious picked up on it and was like "nuh uh"

and I vote you guys have to go to weezer. they are the greatest band alive.

Natalie said...

I went to the Cranberries/Toad concert back when I lived in Az! We may have met and not even known it! That was a great concert. Especially Toad...they were amazing. My first concert was Tori Amos with my big sis. Amazing. I was also at a Dave Mathews concert in Az (worrying the whole time about my first child in my belly and all the smoke around me!)but they can play! James Blunt/KT Tunstall was an amazing concert and my last one was my favorite: Sara Bareilles. It was a smaller venue and we got right up front. She is so talented and I sang my heart out.
I love old Neil Diamond. My parents listened to his records all the time (although I distinctly remember a FHE lesson where one of his songs was used as an example of bad lyrics! Ha!) I still need to see Sarah McLachlan who I've loved for years and can't believe I haven't seen yet. And I missed my chance to see Nickel Creek (amazing bluegrassy delight) before they split up so now I have to hope for a reunion concert someday. :(

I vote for Weezer too.

Natalie said...

Oh and ditto on Maroon 5. I was totally hot for the singer until I saw their performance on American Idol and it sucked so bad and he kept doing this weird move every time it got to the part where the bad word was blocked out. He looked like such a egotistical dork after that to me. My bubble=bursted.

Natalie said...

Oh! And I'm going to see Coldplay in October and will not survive if I don't catch Keane since they cancelled their last concert here due to rehab issues. Nice, eh? I was angry.

ok, i'm done now.

nevadanista said...

I was thinking of this post last night as I watched a tivo'd episode of Conan O'Brien. Our dvr starts recording a few minutes before CO begins, and we always capture the the musical act from Jay Leno, who happened to be Brian Wilson from the Sept. 4th show. His performance was exactly as you described from the show you attended!!! He was indeed propped up in front of a keyboard, which he never played one single note on. I even noticed it didn't have any large electrical taped to the floor like the others did. I don't think it was plugged it, and maybe not even real. His singing was was below sub par. It was cringe worthy. His back up band and singers were obviously trying to mask his lack of ability. And the song itself, from his new album no doubt, didn't have any of his former genius in it at all. It was truly sad :( He should be remembered for his brilliance as the mastermind behind the Beach Boys, their timeless harmonies and his Pet Sound days, but not in this sad prop him up in front of audience to make a few bucks way. I can't imagine even his most avid fans enjoying him in this way. Your description was spot on!

Btw, I went to the same high school as he did, Hawthorne High, only muvh later. My mother went to school with him though.

Heidi Ashworth said...

I saw Neil Diamond about 20 years ago and things were already going downhill then. Loved the Jimmy Valentine stuff--that's hilarious! I hope that my daughter will be willing to squire around my mentally disabled son when I am too old to go to concerts. At the moment, it's looking pretty iffy . . .

cally said...

I'm all about Nickel Creek. Seen em twice, almost three times. So great. Sorry Nat. The blond guy kinda makes out with his ukelele a little much, but still so great.

You won my giveaway, btw.

You're hilarious. I'll say it again.

CASSIE said...

I just looovvee Ryan! He is so sweet and fun! That is so fun that you guys get to spend "concert" time together! Augustana is my fave! I am teaching Drew's brother how to play Boston on the piano right now..I am bummed I missed them!

Gini said...

I think some of ABBA are dead. I've been to Neil Diamond so many times. Last time at Jobing. com... we were on the floor in the $100. seats and we left.. all those old people were standing on their chairs SINGING.. we couldn't even see Neil on the jumbo-tron...he kind of lost my interest AND my money when he and Barbra S. got political & started saying mean things about the Republicans. Last time we went to the fair we paid to see Wayne Newton... I used to watch him on Ed Sullivan before his voice changed.. or maybe it never did....

Dana said...

That Ryan is the BEST! You probably don't know me, but I LOVE reading your blog! My parents live in your parents ward and used to own the Balloon business Ryan "worked" at. I use the term worked very loosely! hehe. Anyways, I miss our drives to Bashas distribution warehouse when Ryan would be his typical chatterbox self, telling me about the places he's been, the concerts he's been to and funny stories about his neice (I think there was just Jane at the time) and nephews! I know we all miss seeing Ryan so often! Thanks for posting this story about him and his awesome taste in music! I think I'll have to stop by and say hi to him.

Jaime Theler said...

Wow, you've seen a lot of concerts. I can't even compete, only having seen one--count it, one--concert. My claim to fame is that Jason knows the Maroon 5 guitarist's mom. That makes me feel a little old--that I don't know any band members, but do know their parents.

The Fear Fam said...

Didn't read all the comments so I don't know if someone has said this or not, BUT... in the words of Bob from What About Bob, "There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who love Neil Diamond, and those who don't. My ex-wife loved him."

And I love him, too. :) Luckily my husband grew up with a mom who loved Neil as well, so we can all rock out to "Cherry, Cherry" together.

Leslie said...

I just don't know what to say...but oh how I loved reading that post.

heather said...

Oh -oh! I know you, well not you -but your parents. I know your parents. :)

And I am a fan of the early Neil too.

I've only ever been to a handful of concerts. Probably the most surprising one would be Bob Dylan in Sun City West. HA! That was a fun night!

Joe said...

I've seen Jimmy Buffett 3 times now and have never been disappointed. In fact, am I not responsible for Ryan's Buffett fetish?

Great shows? So many. The Connells in SLC was excellent - I believe you were there, Kelly. U2 in Las Vegas, 1992, was a blast, too. Zoo TV tour, I believe. The Ocean Blue at Club DV8 in SLC, 1991 was a killer show. When I saw them with you a few years later, they had definitely lost a step. Def Leppard, 1988 (1-armed drummer + circular, rotating stage) was unforgettable. That was in my metal days, and, frankly, we didn't have a lot of options growing up in Tallahassee! Morrissey at the U of U arena, 1992, was a good show. he's a weirdo, but a true showman!

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