Thursday, September 25, 2008

Autumn Night On The Green

The first big rock concert I ever attended was Cheap Trick, Journey, and Black Sabbath (Dio version) at a Day On The Green show at the Oakland Coliseum in the summer of 1980.

Last night I went to see two of those bands (Cheap Trick and Journey) with Heart at the Chronicle Sleep Train Concord Pavilion in what might be the last big rock concert I ever see. I just don't have much interest in those kind of shows anymore, but I had to attend this one to provide a 28 year closure to my big concert going experience.

First, the place was packed. I work about five miles down Ygnacio Valley Road from the Pavilion, and with all the concert/commute traffic, those five miles took more than an hour. They have free parking, but with all the traffic, I decided to ditch my car at a shopping center and walk the last mile to the venue.

I arrived at 7:15pm, a few songs into Cheap Trick's set. They were on first (still opening for Journey after 28 years!) and the combination of twilight and a late arriving crowd made it a rough go for them. They still have all four original members (Robin, Rick, Tom, and Bun E.) just like they did back in 1980, and played many of the same tunes they did then. The only "modern" song they included was "The Flame", and even that's 20 years old now.

After that came Heart. I've never been a huge fan, but they put on a good show, which was split between their good (70s) and their bad (80s) eras. The best songs were all the early ones ("Barracuda", "Crazy On You", "Magic Man") and the worst ones were all their versions of "The Flame" ("What About Love", "Alone", etc.). They also covered "Going To California" and "Love Reign O'er Me", showcasing Nancy's high-end Daltrey/Plant vocals (I think it was Nancy -- she's the smaller/blonder Wilson sister, right).

Speaking of high-end vocals, Steve Perry's lead vocals in Journey were one of my least favorite things in the entire world, and their current lead singer Arnel Pineta is the American Idol version of Steve Perry. I didn't have very high hopes for their performance, and was just going to hang around for that song about the lights going down in the city and the sun shining on the bay before skipping out to get a head start on the traffic.

I tried to come to the Journey set with open arms, even though they might be my least favorite band ever. Overwrought singing, screechy guitar solos, and amazingly trite lyrics. Take the chorus of "Any Way You Want It" ("Any way you want it / That's the way you need it / Any way you want it"). WTF does that mean??

Anyway, I did make it all the way to "Lights" (a dozen songs or so) before the show and I took our separate ways. That wheel in the sky keeps on turnin' and I don't know where I'll be tomorrow, but after three decades, I think I'm done with stadium/arena/shed concerts.

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