Tuesday, April 7, 2009


On this Friday I purchased a single ticket to attend the last day (August 2) of the 3 day All Points West Music & Arts Festival on the banks of New Jersey's Liberty State Park, overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline across the mouth of the Hudson River. Cold Play headline that all day show, but I'm going for Echo & The Bunnymen. Ticket 1.

Needed to use up the two remaining ski passes for the Aspen mountains, a case of use it or lose it considering Aspen Highlands was closing down full operation this weekend, Snowmass Mountain in another two weeks. What was good was that the news was predicting a heavy snowfall in the mountains, beginning Friday night. Time to go!

Left for the mountains immediately after work, hoping to get over Vail Pass before the storm had enough time to mess the roads up and shut it down. Just before the tunnel I was clocked doing 86 mph going up hill by the state patrol, red and blue flashing lights behind me. By the end of that experience both the police officer and I were pissed off, my questioning/challenging him and his threatening to toss me in the Georgetown slammer. When I pulled back into the highway traffic I was stepping on the gas so hard that my leg nearly cramped up. Needless to say, I made it to the Aspen area in record time. Ticket 2.

I was concerned because there was very little snow coming out of the sky, the roads being largely clear and driving stress free. Then what little was falling turned to a heavy rain in the Roaring Fork Valley, changing over to snow shortly before Aspen. I had visions of crappy wet snow. I pulled into the darkened parking lot of the Aspen middle school where I planned to spend the night. An inch on the ground, wet snow falling keeping me inside the truck for fear of being soaked after my concert.

Time to crank up the truck stereo.

First up was Van Halen, their February 1, 1984 show at the Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte NC. A very good audience recording, capturing the band at their peak before a) they exhausted themselves after nearly a year of touring and b) before they broke up the following year.

According to Ian Crisete's The Van Halen Saga:

The entire tour felt like a celebration, and every night was sold out to capacity. Eddie played a never-ending outpouring of crisp notes and riffs, teasing with short quotes from well-known songs. Mike was a constantly tumbling brick avalanche. Alex pounding on humongous Ludwig kit covered with tiny square reflective mirrors, an environment built on six massive bass drums. Dave was now at his finest as ecstatic emcee, ringmaster of an unbelievable party. "We're a flame that burns for 24,000 people a night, " he explained.

Holds up the cardboard
Old man on the street corner
Distant eyes of shame

The last one standing
Made a prisoner by time
There so all alone

Hides behind closed doors
Eyes that seek the distant past
See only the end

A house trapped in time
Stare out from dusty picture frames
Life in black and white

Once upon a time
A child's joy on summers day
Ghosts long departed

There in black and white
A child behind birthday candles
Looks into his eyes

Download it here:

Part 2 of the evenings long show was Echo & The Bunnymen's April 1, 1999 concert at the London Improv Theater. An hour long performance of some of their best songs, all very well performed. Ian's voice was superb! Excellent recording, probably off of a soundboard. A great sound to end the night.

The following is written about the band from this time period off the POPocalypse music website:

In 1997, they had coaxed Les Pattinson back into the warren, resurrecting the old band name and adding session drummer Michael Lee, and their low-key reunion single "Nothing Lasts Forever" was released. A sweeping, string-laden anthem, it owed much to the sound of Ocean Rain, but with a hint of Oasis's better material as well, and was a top 10 smash. The album Evergreen followed it into the top 10 that summer, and was very well-received by the media, who, with the vociferous exception of the USA's Details magazine, compared it favorably to the band's first four records and considered it one of the most dignified comebacks a defunct band had ever managed. In the USA, the album was an unpromoted flop which couldn't even find college radio support. While most magazines gave it a brief and thoughtful thumbs-up, the most press it got was from Details, which treated it as a running gag for months.

A well-received tour followed, along with another pair of singles which charted mildly, before the band fractured again. A death in his family prompted Pattinson to retire from the music industry during sessions for their seventh album, What are You Going to Do With Your Life?, which was released in 1999. Michael Lee drummed on two of the songs but was otherwise replaced by Jeremy Stacey, while Guy Pratt subbed for Pattinson. The album is sedate and quiet, contemplative and deliberate. It's not a showcase for Sergeant's blistering chords; strings and atmosphere is the key to this album. The tone is more adult and knowing, and some fans found it too much a change of pace. It is a remarkable achievement, but also revealing for what it lacks; the US single "Get in the Car" would have benefitted from a more direct Sergeant attack.

Like a boundless sea
The immensity of time
Drinks only a drop

Deep swig from the flask
Nicotine taste fills his mouth
Rides the music's wave

Scream for the encore
Want it to last forever
Save the best for last

Across the table
Fight those beautiful blue eyes
Unfair advantage

Note the need for his password.

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