For two seconds back in 1998 the Worcester Centrum, an indoor venue mere miles from Boston where I was living at the time, was set to host a concert, one of four in the U.S. and Canada, co-headlined by Radiohead and Björk, two of the most adventurous and thrilling artists in my lifetime. At the time, Björk’s <em>Homogenic</em> was a favorite of mine and, like the rest of the world, I was obsessed with Radiohead’s <em>OK Computer</em>, so the idea of seeing them doing their thing under the same big top and maybe even sharing the stage for a song or two was alluring.
It was not meant to be: each act’s tour utilized elaborate stage sets, and the two camps felt it was unacceptable to make fans wait the full hour it would take to strike one set and set-up the next.
But how cool would that show have been?
In my humble opinion, Phish were at the peak of their mind-blowing powers around the time of this show. I’m sure they were reading one another’s minds when they played; how else could four players be so synchronized while playing such complex material? And the songs were getting better every album cycle. I would go on to see many more Phish shows over many more tours but this early-nineties period was … just … so good.
Back in 2004 Beastie Boys, an act with nothing left to prove, three guys who could do whatever they wanted, decided to have some fun. So they built a tour that spent two nights in each city, one a classic hip-hop show and the other … something else. “This Is A No Sneaker Jam. Dress To Impress. No B.S.” read the announcement. Tiny venues. More instrumental. Plenty of surprises.
I regret that I never made it to any dates on the tour but I think it’s a remarkable example of risk-taking and playfulness that’s too rare among superstar live acts.
The hiking trails in Morrison, Colorado surrounding Red Rocks Amphitheater are stunning. The air is clean and clear, the dirt is a trippy shade of crimson and the rock formations make you feel like you’re roaming another planet. For these reasons I felt it made a memorable place to pop the question to Aida, who by the time this story is set had been my partner in crime and best friend for many years. I got us tickets to see our beloved Dave Matthews Band and constructed a plan that would put us onto those trails before the show.
That was August 15, 1995. She said “yes.” We held hands throughout the concert (a good one, recorded and released officially as the double album Live at Red Rocks) and a few weeks later moved across the country to start the next phase of what’s been a blessed life together.
For me and others growing up in Eastern Massachusetts, Great Woods Amphitheater in Mansfield — specifically its general-admission Lawn — was synonymous with summer. Many acts made Great Woods an annual summer tour stop, visits that became teen rites of passage. I’m talking Jimmy Buffett, Steve Miller Band and others for whom you had to buy tickets. After the long drive you’d kill a beer, make your way to The Lawn, and know half the kids there. The big one in my book was Reggae Sunsplash. In the late Eighties that package had some stellar line-ups and my friends and I would never miss ’em. The photo here was taken during one of those tours on a warm, near-perfect night the summer before my senior year of high school. That skinny dark-haired kid is me (right); those two handsome fellas in hats are my homies Scott (left) and Todd (center).
Have you ever seen Shawn Colvin perform? Books should be written about this singer-songwriter, about the attention that may be commanded of an audience with tools as simple as a pleasant voice, an acoustic guitar and a microphone. Whether you like her songs or not (and she’s got bucket-loads of great ones)