From The Survivors to Carole King 40 years of concert going

As I was sitting in my seat with a couple of thousand other fifty “plussers” waiting for the still amazing Carole King to come in stage I started thinking about the concerts I had been to in the last 40 or so years.

Which was my favourite and which the most disappointing? Why I had gone ….

I went to my first concert in the early 1970s – The Survivors

a concert promoted by local AM radio station, 5KA I think and a forerunner to the now mega BigDay Out. The last at this stage is Carole King.

I am not going to even attempt to put the concerts in chronological order as it spans such a long period I won’t get it right and I know I will have forgotten some. What I have done is tried to capture my memories.

There have been those occasions when I have sat or stood there and gone “Wow I am actually here”.

The first of those truly Wow moments was seeing Paul McCartney which I know was in 1975 because it was in Swatvac before my Year 12 Exams. An incredible concert and the nearest I got to seeing The Beatles. More of that later. It was the same seeing Burt Bacharach – even in his 80s he was marvelous and what a catalogue. Carole King, Jackson Browne, Tori Amos, and Dave Groll the same. And then there was Dylan – as a schoolteacher and music mentor of mine said “He is the Beginning, The Middle and the End”.

When it came to being spellbound, seeing Tori Amos the first time at Her Majesty’s, an intimate Theatre probably takes the cake. There were times I felt she was just singing to me. I was transfixed on her. She has amazing talent and a haunting voice. My wife takes a different view and certainly felt in no way transfixed but rather I suspect was hoping to be transported to another place – she didn’t enjoy it at all!

Then there was the concert I was probably most looking forward to but was most disappointed with – Joni Mitchell. Her only Australian tour was in the early 80s. By that time her musical influence was Jazz and so it wasn’t surprising that she played in that style, however for her to completely ignore her folk period was so disappointing. I still love listening to her including her jazz albums but I wish that I had seen her sing some of her early music in the style it was recorded.

Whilst in the vein of female vocalists my current favourite is Regina Spektor. She has a true talent for story telling with her songs beautifully brought to life on stage. It was such a simple concert, Regina on piano and vocals with a trio supporting her. I think we were the oldest people there!

My children had introduced me to Dave Groll via Nirvana and then to the The Foo Fighters. We had the opportunity to see them at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre a few years ago. When it comes to big stage performances this one would be hard to top. Dave Groll has energy and magnetism that infects the crowd. Loud and powerful and hit after hit. It would definitely be in my Top 5 concerts!

Not in the same class when I think back on it now was Suzie Quatro who I saw whilst still at school. She seemed so hot! About 40 years on it seems rather funny really!

Through my high school years I really got into The Moody Blues and for a long time they were my favourite band, however living in Australia there was no real prospect that they would tour. It wasn’t until the mid 1980s that I finally had my chance to see them. They really weren’t that great on that occasion and I wished I hadn’t gone. I was quite disappointed so when I saw they were touring again in 2011 I was unsure whether to risk it. I am glad I did they were fantastic. Justin Haywood’s voice shone and Ray Thomas’s comment about having survived the sixties twice, having just turned seventy put their longevity in perspective. This one goes down as one of my favourites.

I was to young to see The Beatles when they toured, so seeing Paul McCartney at the now demolished Apollo Stadium was the next best thing. I still remember how for the whole of the first song the stadium was lit up with thousands of flashes. The audience was enthralled for the whole concert whether it was a Wings song or a Beatles song. That said Yesterday brought the house down. McCartney was at the top of his game and definitely worth missing a night’s study!

The first time I saw Bob Dylan was his Budokan Tour, a stadium concert at West Lakes in the late 70s. He was still at his peak and was fantastic. I have never been one of the Dylan purists and appreciate that with Dylan it’s where he is at the time. It’s pot luck. For me that concert still stands as one of the best. I saw him again on his Modern Times Tour about 30 years on from the Budokan concert and his voice deteriorating but he was still Dylan and amazing – I loved it. Rockabilly. Plenty of people walked out but I just lapped it up.

Another stadium comcert ws Niel Diamond. I had discovered Niel Diamond when Hot August Night came out. It’s one of the great live albums. I went to this concert with my parents. I generally didn’t share the same tastes in music as my parents but on this one we did. It was a lovely late summer/ autumn night and a great concert. I paid for my ticket which is not the way it seems to work when I go to concerts with my children!

I saw Daniel Johns & Paul Mac, and Silverchair with my two older children. Both concerts were at the Thebarton Townhall. The children asked me to buy three tickets for Daniel Johns and Paul Mac without me realising that I was going to be the third person. I probably wouldn’t have gone otherwise. I stood at the back with the other parents and loved every minute of it. I only saw Silverchair once, a band my son introduced me too. It was their Young Modern Tour and was earsplittingly loud and awesome. Daniel Johns has real charisma and a swagger to go with it.

Whilst thinking about concerts with my children I took my youngest child to see Powderfinger at a post V8 race concert. On the oval in the middle of the race track and a rough crowd. She loved it and so did I. Powderfinger were a great concert band and powered through their set ending with the classic (Baby I’ve Got You) on my Mind.

I have never really been into guitar solos so I am not sure why I saw both Jeff Beck & Robin Trower in the same week.

ELO’s concert at West Lakes was the first time I had seen a laser light show. My memory of this concert is the 4 Cello strings beamed from the grandstand to the stage and with every note the
laser beams being cut and shooting into the sky.

We have seen Simon & Garfunkel a couple of times, most recently in 2009. Whether singing their classics together or their solo sets it was a wonderful night. For me the highlight of a hit filled evening was Art Garfunkel’s Bright Eyes, words failed me. I still get shivers thinking about him singing it.

The Beach Boys late 70s tour was on a hot Adelaide day at West Lakes. Maybe they weren’t at their best but the atmosphere was perfect. Hot day, lots of Sun and a crowd in the mood.

The Ike and Tina Turner Review was like nothing I have seen before or since. Big band, singers and Ike and Tina Turner playing upto each other and the crowd. River Deep Mountain High live was incredible.

I saw Brian Ferry play solo at Apollo Stadium, he was so cool, and then just after John Lennon died we saw Roxy Music at the Festival Theatre. They played from behind Venetian blinds which was an interesting effect. Jealous Guy brought a tear to the eye. We saw them again a couple of years ago. They’ve still got it and Brian Ferry is just as cool as he was in the 70s just a little greyer!

When Burt Bacharach cancelled his concert tour in 2010 I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to see him. Fortunately a 2012 tour was announced, we snapped up tickets – it was incredible. I swear if he and the band had played every song he’d written they would still be playing! He tickled the ivories a bit and sang even less, but he was there on stage a true living legend. Accompanied by a super talented band taking the audience through decades of hits I think this is the best concert I have ever been too.

A couple of bands it wasn’t cool to see were The John Paul Young Allstars and Sherbert. JPY was a great singer and his Allstars truly were. Sherbert were similarly not cool unless you were a teenage girl so unless you had a girlfriend you were unlikely to see them live. Those who didn’t really missed out, they were a great rock band best exemplified by their traditional encore, Joe Walsh’s, Rocky Mountain Way

I saw John Denver at Adelaide Oval whilst at University. It was a balmy summer night at Adelaide Oval. Denver played hit after hit backed by an orchestra. Sure some of his songs were schmultzy but he can sing. The soaring Rocky Mountain High was inspiring and when I looked at the tears rolling down my friend’s face as he sang Leaving on Jet Plane it was hard to say it wasn’t both a wonderful and memorable performance.

My wife and I are old enough to remember Flower Power albeit too young to have participated. One of the icons of that era was Donovan. We took the opportunity to see him in the early eighties. It was such a small crowd they could almost have come to our place and sat round our dining room table. He sang his hits and others, however it was his forgetting the words to Universal Soldier that I remember most. It was OK because the audience knew the words and he just rejoined in the chorus!

I saw Ross Ryan an Australian folk artist a few times with the most memorable being one at Adelaide University. He just walked into the University refectory and played for 3 hours – not bad value for 50 cents even in 1974!

Skyhooks played their first Adelaide concert as a support to Daddy Cool. They were so different and I thought awful, but wow was I wrong. They turned out to be one of my favourite bands, and a real factor in the rise and rise of Australian music via Countdown.

So that brings me to my last concert so far, Carole King. Since the release of her Living Room Tour CD I had been keen to see her and on my third attempt we finally got there. At 70 plus she has energy, a wonderful voice and enthusiasm. With so many hits she could have played all night.

In all of this there isn’t Springsteen. That’s because I haven’t seen him yet! He has been to Australia twice before, the week my son was born and the week he turned 21. His third tour is timed incredibly for the week of his 28th birthday but this time we are going and I am looking forward to it.

I could have written about other concerts Elton John, Ry Cooder, Melanie, Don McLean, Leo Sayer, Olivia Newton John, Dire Straits, Split Enz, REM and numerous music festivals but I set out to write about those concerts that truly stuck in my memory rather than just list them all.

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2 Responses to From The Survivors to Carole King 40 years of concert going

  1. Michael van Heeswyk says:

    Great bit of writing Michael. Made me think about the concerts I have gone to over the years. Last year AnneMarie and I were given gold pins as members of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for 25 years membership by Vladimir Ashkenazy. 10 concerts per year, that’s 250 concerts at the Sydney Opera House. Yet I love all kinds of music. Two memorable concerts were The Eagles and quite recently Cold Play. We went to Cold Play as a family because it was Mark’s favourite group.

  2. Pingback: Bob Dylan – The Beginning the Middle and the End or The Barometer of our Times? | browney237's Blog

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