I am going to attempt to search my memory for references to live shows I’ve attended in my lifetime. Is it some kind of weird reflection from a music lover that feels he is closer to death than birth?
What did I take away from these shows? Memory is a tricky thing in’nit? If you attended any of these shows and have your own memories of it I would love for you to share your thoughts and fill in the blanks. Thanks to the internet I can sometimes glean information to spark a memory. Many of the shows took place before the internet so that becomes a gray area for concert attendees who may have been nuts on goofballs.
Being a massive concert attender and music lover, I get asked “what was your favorite concert?” This one always comes up. Even if not the best it is without any doubt in the top 5 of all time.
Most concerts you are hard pressed to see 2 decent bands. Usually if you get there early to get up close you have to endure a horrible opening act to get to the band you paid to see. In this case, the line-up is 3 legends May 16th of the year 1998. The power of 3, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Joni Mitchell. For sure 3 of the best songwriters maybe ever. The set up: I’m working as a DJ at KMTT The Mountain-Seattle. A station that has championed these major artists their whole career. We are getting a party bus together to take staff and lucky listeners to the concert. Where is the bus going you are wondering? We are off the the venue voted best outdoor concert venue almost every year since it’s beginning. The venue is the sublime, majestic, Gorge Ampitheatre in Washington state.
If you ever have an opportunity to see a show at this venue, don’t miss it. On the cliff top of the Gorge in the beautiful northwest. Views that go on forever. A drive that can sometimes seems like it goes on forever if you’re coming from Seattle or Portland. Let’s just say you can’t get to a beautiful spot like this without putting a few miles on the odometer. So right away we are off to a good start. I don’t have to drive. A very special man named “Lem” is driving the bus and he is a true professional. We will get there on time with all the bells and whistles of a tour bus. The excitement of the show and the relief of Lem behind the wheel has the whole bus buzzing.
Being part of the radio station we are treated to a meal before the show. We get there early and safe. In yurts looking out at the beautiful gorge we enjoy a catered pre-party. At the gathering I am talking with some friends from the record company and they ask me where I am sitting. Well it is kind of in the back, I am not complaining as the tickets were free and I was about to see the power of 3. The kind man from Bob Dylan’s label, Columbia Records, tells me he can do better than that. He reaches in his jacket pocket and upgrades me to better, closer, more center seats. It is all falling into place for a magical evening.
Joni Mitchell performs with a nice breeze blowing her hair as her voice fills the venue. She is sounding as good as you could ever hope. Joni was just coming off a bit of resurgence at this time in her career. The music almost sounds to good to be real. That is the thing about seeing artists with this much experience. They have toured and toured and learned how to deliver a top notch show. This includes wonderful performance, the best sound, and a set list that includes the hits but also some hidden gems for the album lover who spent hours watching the spool going round on the record player side after side.
I am most excited to see Van Morrison. He is as cool as you would want him to be. Van is wearing a black suit jacket, black fedora, and dark sun glasses. That voice and that soul delivered with total grace. It is often said of a wonderful voice that this person could sing the phonebook and it would sound good. So is the case with Van Morrison. And I do believe at some point in his career when needing to complete a contractual obligation to his record label, has in fact sang the phonebook and yes it was amazing. He is more funky that I would have imagined. The horn section really helps with this and even segues into a Sly & The Family Stone cover.
Bob Dylan has gone through some tough tours in his long career. His songwriting can not be touched so there is only a couple of places a critic can attack. His voice and his live performance are up for heavy critique. Most people have gotten over his recorded voice, either loving or hating it. But the live performance is always up to the music gods on that day. On this day Bob delivers vocal perfection. The band is rocking and when you hear Dylan sing the “The Times They Are A Changin’ ” in a large group of people with our prophet on stage the possibility of real change is alive. With this line up in this setting we have hit major transcendence. Music moves you and motivates thought and will eventually bring the world together as one if we are to save ourselves.
As we head back to the bus flying high from this power of 3 performance, knowing we can just relax and reflect on the show as Lem gets us home safely. We pull off towards home taking more home emotionally and spiritually than we came in with.
Stick around for more reflections on over 1,000 concerts attended.