Two weeks ago, on Robin’s birthday, I listed artists we had seen together over the years. This list is a bit different: artists I have seen without Robin being present. They break down into a couple of periods, the years before we went to our first show together in 1974, and the post-punk era, with a Classic Rock act in the middle. Here goes:
Judy Collins, “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today”. I went to my first concert on March 4, 1967, Judy Collins at the Berkeley Community Theater. She was touring behind In My Life. I was 13 years old.
Chuck Berry, “Johnny B. Goode”. In the Summer of Love, I went to my first rock concert: Chuck Berry, Eric Burdon & the Animals, and the Steve Miller Blues Band, at the Fillmore Auditorium. Miller and his band backed up Chuck, who later released an album from those shows, titled, oddly enough, Live at the Fillmore Auditorium. (Berry turned 87 today. When I saw him, he was only 40.)
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, “Drunk Again”. Summer of 1968. Fillmore West, just around the time it opened (as Fillmore West … I think it was the Carousel before that). Also on the bill was Ten Years After, a couple of years before their Woodstock fame, and Fleetwood Mac when they were still Peter Green’s band. Butterfield and company are on the latest list of nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I wouldn’t vote for them … “East/West” belongs in the Hall all by itself, but that’s as far as I’d go. The version of the band I saw came long after Mike Bloomfield had left. “Drunk Again” showcases Elvin Bishop, who was still around.
Ike & Tina Turner, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”. Late summer, 1971. Believe it or not, they were the opening act. B.B. King headlined.
The Mahavishnu Orchestra, “Meeting of the Spirits”. Spring, 1972, in a converted movie theater.
Rod Stewart, “I Was Only Joking”. Finally got around to seeing Rod at the end of 1977. I was only five years too late. A few weeks later, I saw The Sex Pistols.
The B-52’s, “Rock Lobster”. I could be wrong, but I think it was 1979, at Lower Sproul Plaza, lunchtime.
Gang of Four, “Damaged Goods”. 1980. Holy moly, they were great live.
U2, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. They were the opening act for the J. Geils Band.
English Beat, “Mirror in the Bathroom”. Also 1982, also an opening act, this time for The Clash.
Los Lobos, “Don’t Worry Baby”. We’re up to 1984. Also an opening act, also for The Clash (I saw a lot of great opening acts with The Clash).
New Order, “Blue Monday”. 1985. Not to be all whiny, but they didn’t play my beloved “Temptation” that night.
Hüsker Dü, “I Apologize”. I saw them a few times, I forget when or where, so I’ll go with 1985, when this video was taken. I never saw them open for The Clash … if they had, I might not have survived, but I would have died happy. This is my favorite of their many great songs, and it includes my favorite of their lyrics, oft-quoted (by me): “So now we sit around, we're staring at the walls. We don't do anything at all. Take out the garbage, maybe, BUT THE DISHES DON’T GET DONE!”
GG Allin, “Bite It You Scum”. Kesha’s Inn, I think 1989. I’m only going to say this once: don’t click on the link to the video. You’ve been warned. You’ve heard of NSFW? This is more like Not Safe for Humanity. You think I’m joking. You think, oh, Steven’s a nice guy, he’s just playing a joke. There may be a joke here, but if you don’t know anything about GG Allin, it won’t seem like a joke if you click on the link. Don’t blame me if you can’t resist.
[edited to add Spotify playlist]