Concert Recollection: Which One Are You R, E or O

This has actually been a summer full of concerts.  If you recall, I previously posted on the Alice Cooper concert (link here) we attended on our anniversary.  Next up on the list was the Mississippi Valley State Fair.  This year’s rock act … translated as NOT a country band… was our boys from Chambana.  Anyone that has ever attended the University of Illinois (like say me) is very familiar with one of the Illini’s most famous music products.  If you are thinking the Elvis Brothers are even Hum at this point you need to think a little higher on the charts.  Need another hint?  How about they were a “rock” band until the lead singer lamed out and started putting out top 40 love song crap — I Can’t Fight This Feeling .. SHUDDER.  That should be more than enough clues to know we went to REO Speedwagon.  REO is actually one of those bands that brings back a lot of memories – first, they have that whole college connection, their lead guitarist and writer for a large majority of their non-lame years is from right here in Peoria (actually I believe it is East Peoria, but Wikipedia had it as Peoria) and their High Infidelity Tour was the first concert my brother Ron ever took me to.  I was still in high school (81) and he took me up to Champaign  to see the concert (my brothers and I all received degrees from the U of I although some are more impressive than mine).  I can still remember just about everything about that night – what a blast.  This is one of the reasons I get ticked off every time they play their lame crap on the radio – marring up my memory.

There are some interesting things about the Mississippi Valley State Fair held in Davenport Iowa.  For one thing they do their concert tickets in a very creative way.  You basically buy a fair pass that let’s you in to EVERY concert they schedule during the fair.  As a result, the ticket to the fair runs in the 30 or so dollar range but depending on the lineup it can be an extremely good deal.  It should be pointed out that you can share your passes – we actually share the pass with Linda’s family and friends on the dates during the week.  This ticket process works quite well – the fair is always a revenue generator, the bands are guaranteed their money and they get good bands that actually WANT to come and play.  Our own HOI fair needs to take a few lessons.  Add in the fact they understand the profit machine and encourage alcohol purchases you have a recipe for fun and entertainment – if not on the stage, then in the crowd – they actually sell multiple beers to people and hand them out in bags of ice).  Oh, when it comes to crowds.. these shows are packed!

Now REO happens to be one of those bands that sound a lot beefier live than they do on their studio albums.  I recollected this from the concert back in ’81.  I am unable to put my finger on it, but I think it is the deeper base and drums that tend to get overpowered by the guitars and keyboard mixing on their albums.  In contrast to the previous concert, they are now officially OLD.  This is probably more of a statement on us than them, seeing as how we bought tickets to see them – hehehe.  All in all I thought it was a pretty good concert.  They know why the people are there and accommodate them by playing all their classics – in our case everything except In Your Letter which I amuse myself by singing it as “Henrietta” – try to get that out of your head the next time you hear that song – I also use My Pool Hall Ace for the Police My Poor Heart Aches which brought a big laugh to my Sister-in-Law Eilish who pointed out my error while singing along in the car – it stuck!   It was well worth our money and the crowd (it was packed in the stands and on the track) was in to it.  This despite a major screw up by Cronin at the beginning of the concert.  Note to performers – LEARN THE NAME OF THE TOWN YOU ARE PLAYING IN.  Sure, you travel to many towns throughout the tour, but how hard is it to have a roadie ask a local before the start of the show?  Included in some banter with the crowd are “Davenport [cheer], Moline [cheer] and Bettencourt [wtf?]”  Where the hell is Bettencourt?  – nowhere around us, that’s for sure.  I would let it go if he would not have said it AGAIN later in the concert.  Hey Kevin.. it’s Bettendorf.

Hit the jump for some comments on scenes from the crowd.

Continue reading Concert Recollection: Which One Are You R, E or O

Listen Baby You Really Wouldn’t Understand

Guess who Linda and I saw last week?  Do you need a hint?

Theatre of Death

As a surprise to some, I actually have a slightly darker side when it comes to music.  I say slightly, because it does NOT include any death-metal or “Look at me I’m so cool because I can act moody” crap.  Nope, I prefer old school theater with smooth riffs and lyrics with a catch.  At the heart of this genre is Alice Cooper (by definition I am referring to the band even though Vincent Furnier has since assumed this alter ego himself).  Somewhat as a confession, this interest came about when I was in high school.  I ran around with a slightly older crowd from work who used to drag me out to cruise the Springfield strip after work.  One of these friends (ironically named the same as a famous comedian for those in the know) would always crank  Alice as we drove around – we know all the lyrics and passed the time singing along.  Ever since then, I’ll pull out a Cooper album and catch up on old memories.  A few years back Linda and I actually saw them at the Peoria Civic Center Theater and totally enjoyed the performance.  Surprisingly, my wife ended up enjoying it as well (her first time) but she is a huge people watcher as well so it was probably a natural fit.    So when we heard he was going to be at the Mississippi Valley Fair (Davenport , IA) we jumped at the chance.

I need to explain something that made this night a little more intriguing that usual.  This fair runs their concert tickets a little different that most places I have been at.  The event goes on for about a week with a different band/singer each night.  The acts tend to vary with a lot of country, a lame 80’s reject (this year it was Kenny Loggins filling this role) and then a rock band (we have seen Poison there twice now although some people would put them in the lame 80’s reject category).  So you would expect the older crowd buys the tickets for the country, the George Michael fans gather for the lame act and the rockers hit the show geared for them.  But this has a drawback in that the specific entertainment for that particular night is responsible for the draw/gate revenue.  The clever men and women on this fair board figured you can charge everyone for a high priced fair card that gets you into all shows (actually the only way to get into the shows).  This means no matter how much the act sucks or how bad weather is, the fair still has guaranteed money.  Since Alice Cooper was the only band we wanted to see, we paid the full fair ticket price and just let friends and family use them when they wanted on the other days.  All shows ticketing like this has an interesting side effect in that people tend to check out shows they normally would not attend because they basically paid for it anyway.  Having experienced this from the Poison concerts, we were wondering what would happen at this particular concert because both my wife and I agreed Davenport was not ready for an AC performance.  Sure enough, the gray hairs were standing in line when we got there along with a a number of families I am guessing did not do any Wiki searches before agreeing to take their kids.  The goths were out along the usual mix of rockers making the lines a true mix of cultures.  Linda and I were busy calling out numbers representing the amount of songs it would take for them to get disgusted and tear out of there.

I recommend catching an Alice show if you get the chance.  Just be sure and keep an open mind and take the time to understand what is actually happening and more importantly why.  If not, you will likely jump to some incorrect conclusions (especially if you are overly sensitive to the perceived improper treatment of the women on stage – for the curious fans out there, note the last time he was in Peoria his daughter was playing the role of the evil nurse which made it even creepier).

I did manage to take some crappy pictures during the concert.  It was too much of a pain to take the expensive glass, but I had slipped the Stylus in my pocket to capture some stills – original thought is there would be interesting activity in the stands.  Keeping with the more classic material theme, they opened the concert with shortened version of School’s Out.  At 61, Vincent still sounds great and he is still sporting the leather.

Alice Cooper Concert

He ripped through the songs building up the tortured soul storyline.  Again, if you do not understand the songs, you will be struggling to understand the actions on the stage.  Slowly you are brought into the nightmare playing out in his mind until the sanity starts to slip.

Alice Cooper Concert

The fair stage did not leave much room for all his props and gadgets, but he did his best along with his ghoulish stagehands to bring out the required equipment on time and drive the show.  They actually backed a semi truck up to the stage right before the show started to have an additional place to store the balloons and other contraptions.

Do to the number of pictures (yes, they are crap) you will need to take the jump to read on
Continue reading Listen Baby You Really Wouldn’t Understand