Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Worst concerts ever

I was thinking about the worst concerts I've ever seen. As a music writer for 15 years, I saw plenty of stinkers. But I also saw a bunch of wretched ones as a teenager and young adult. Here's my list, what's yours?

Tesla. Oak Mtn. Amphitheatre. Birmingham. Must've been about 1990 because they had a hit with their virtual note-for-note remake of "Signs" by the Five Man Electrical Band. Tesla was so drunk they couldn't play. I mean at all. One of the few concerts I've ever given Zero stars to as a reviewer.

Harry Connick Jr. BJCC Concert Hall, Bham. 1994. Another Zero stars show. This was during the period when Connick moved out of Frank Sinatra-style jazz and into New Orleans funk. Well, this white boy has had a rhythm bypass. It sounded like guys who'd never played together tuning up in a concrete garage. About 45 minutes into the show, I leaned over to my date and said, "This sucks." She said, "OH thank god! I thought I just wasn't getting it."

Deep Purple. 1976. Omni, Atlanta. On the "Come Taste the Band" tour, guitarist Tommy Bolin was so smacked out, he couldn't play. He kept whacking the back of his guitar with the palm of his hand, making it thrum through the speakers. It sounded better than his soloing. When Deep Purple hit the stage, there were 18,000 in the Omni. When they came out for their encore, there was maybe 300.

2 Live Crew. Boutwell Auditorium, Bham. Don't remember the year. Sometime in the 1990s. I've tried to block it out of my head. I'm damned near impossible to offend, but this show was so disgusting and crude, it even offended me. And besides, 2 Live Crew has Zero ability at rapping.

Spin Doctors. Alabama Theatre, Bham. 1991. These guys fancy themselves a jam band, I guess because, when they were coming up, they often played for NY frat parties and were forced to play and play and play. Well, drunk frat boys aren't the best critical audience; if you can play the riff from "Louie Louie" for 45 minutes, you're a god. Spin Doctors jammed and jammed and jammed. Endless noodling by musicians not capable of turning endless noodling into anything interesting.

Kiss. 1975. Omni, Atlanta. No one expects Kiss to be consummate musicians. But hell, at least they don't have to be virtual lip-sync artists. "Kiss Alive" was big stuff at this time and the band started with the first song on Side One (we're talking LPs now, for all you young folks) and played songs in the exact same sequence right through to the end of Side Four. Paul Stanley even said THE EXACT SAME THINGS between songs. What a rip.

Chuck Berry. City STages 1989. First City STages. Berry was the headliner. Didn't even bother to tune his guitar. Wanging all over the place, sounded horrible. A pick-up-the-check performance.

Bob Dylan. Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa. Not sure of the year, probably about 1988 or 89. Bob had picked up a new band a couple of days before this show and every song was a train wreck. I didn't even recognize "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" until the third verse. The guy sitting next to me was a Dylan fanatic and he said, "Ooooh, tonight he's not interested in the music, he's being a poet, trying to find the inner meaning of the words." I said, "Well, whatever he's doing, it sucks big time."