- Procol Harum 1972 Grand Hotel had not been released but they played songs from this upcoming lp. Mick Grabham replaced Robin Trower, who brought power to the group with songs like Whiskey Train. Without the muscle, Gary Brooker, founder of the band, emphasized the orchestral arrangements of Grand Hotel and the following year the band would play the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic Orchestra, riding the success of their live LP: Live in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The Eagles opened for Procol Harum that night. They had one new LP to promote and played most of it for the short 30 minute set they were allowed. I was captivated by Take it Easy and saw a future for this band in Rock, although I was shocked to read the next day in the LA Times concert review that the band was dismissed as a Jackson Browne imitation with “limited” writing skills.
Shine on Brightly
Bringing Home the Bacon
Monsieur R Monde
A Salty Dog
In the Autumn of My Madness
Look To Your Soul
A Whiter Shade of Pale
Monterey Parkthere was a record store called American Records; they had an “export” album section of new vinyl releases. I asked the clerk, some hippie who was always reading underground comics, what an export was. He guffawed and told me that they were records from other countries. I was intrigued. I selected the album Traffic Mr. Fantasy and compared it to the USversion. Very different. I bought both. Months later, I saw the ad in the LA Times Sunday paper for Traffic at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. I made some phone calls, found out how much and where to buy tickets, how to get to the venue, and listened to the lps over and again till concert day. The only disappointment was that Dave Mason wasn’t in the line-up.
Bowie Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars 1972: My older brother
bought the David Bowie LP Ziggy Stardust. I used to sneak “listens” to it
when he wasn’t home because he hated for anyone to touch his records. I
fell in love with the sound, especially Moonage Daydream, Five Years and
the title track. I was lucky to get tickets way in the back of the Civic.
The sound system was not the best and the light show was mediocre, but the
music and the stage presence of David Bowie and Mick Ronson on guitar had
the audience chasing the security from the front of the stage. It was the
first time I rushed the stage. A hippie girl in her late teens held me in
front of her so the shoulder to shoulder crowd couldn’t carry me off. It
was a magical moment for me just to touch the stage with
Bowiea few feet away from me. But too young to appreciate the pretty girl with her arms wrapped around me. A few months later I purchased a double vinyl set of the concert I attended. My first bootleg. Yep, good ol’ American Records again.
Lake and Palmer 1972; playing new songs from their “trilogy” lp, the band
had not acquired full Arena Rock Star status, but you wouldn’t know it
from the fans of King Crimson (
), Atomic Rooster (Carl Palmer) and The Nice (Keith Emerson), who were there to see this unique hybrid band of rockers. Emerson stabbed his keyboards with a knife and carried a portable keyboard that blasted machine-gun sounds as he ran around the stage. And the Mahavishnu Orchestra opened the concert with a jazz-rock fusion sound that confused the rock audience, but I was enthralled by the music and followed John Mclaughlin’s career since. Greg Lake
- Hawkwind 1973. The lights went out. The crowd went nuts. The strobe lights flashed into the audience’s face. The band appeared in costumes ranging from a giant frog to an astronaut. Then the music started with the song Master of the Universe, the psychedelic lights hit the white backdrop, and a nude woman, whom I later found out was named Stacia, appeared onstage dancing. Yep, Lemmy was there, but I don’t remember him.
Englandby the Pound Tour. Stage theatrics, costumes, pastoral mellotron with wicked guitar work by Hackett. This wasn’t just a light show; it was something more. In those days, CREEM Magazine published the latest trends in rock. Peter Gabriel in old man mask was the mag’s centerfold that month. When I saw the photo spread and that the band was going to be at the Civic, I got a ticket and went that same week. As a kid, I never liked Disneyland; I liked carnival sideshows. This was the rock and roll equivalent of a sideshow. As everyone else on the block played Thee Midnighters music, I blasted Selling England by the Pound. It wasn’t the first or last LP my dad would call devil’s music.
Peter Gabriel brings theater to Rock and Roll
- Poco, Robin Trower, Spooky Tooth 1974. I went to see Spooky Tooth and Poco. I thought everyone else did too; but after Poco and Trower played, the sold-out house nearly emptied out; only a few hundred fans remained for Spooky Tooth. Even then, the ushers wouldn’t allow those of us in the cheap seats to occupy the better sections. To this day, I still prefer ST, but also attend Trower show when he’s in town. The song I remember most from this night was ST's take on the Beatles' I Am the Walrus. Below is the 1971 live version.
- Roxy Music 1975. Space Cholos. That’s what I called them. Cholos are finely dressed gang members, cousins of the Zoot Suiters; each Roxy band member had his own outfit, his own personality; and together they rocked out for the crowd. In Every Dream Home a Heartache was a song whose lyrics were not lost on me, even as a kid ("inflatable doll, my role is to serve you"). In concert a single red light shone on Ferry until that classic line, “But you blew my mind”, and then all the lights flashed out, the guitar and drums fought a duel, while the bass tried to keep the peace. I stood on my seat for the whole song. I included the 1988 live version by Bryan Ferry of Dream House as it captures the spirit of the version I first heard live in '75.
Halloween 1975. I remember the headline to the review in the LA Times the
next day: “Music with Majesty”. Two mellotrons added a symphonic punch to
the sound as music from the LPs Hero and Heroine and Ghost dominated the
evening; the crowd was small, which accounts for the 25 year lapse before
the band would return to LA. Even David Cousins jested after a recent show
performing their Acoustic Tour at McCabes Guitar Shop in
Santa Monica, “See you again in 25 more years.” I snatched the setlist from the stage floor, written in Cousins’ handwriting. Forgive me, guys. I still have this list to this day. Below is the Japanese taping of the same tour I attended that year.
- Spirit 1976. This was the famous reunion tour of Spirit with the original line-up. Neil Young came out to sing along on Got a Line on You. He was drunk. After the song, Randy California tried to escort him off the stage, but he refused to leave. Neil and Randy got into a fight. Ed Cassidy, the drummer, broke up the fight and Neil left the stage. If you google this concert, you’ll find many people remember this night differently. This is my version.
- Nektar 1977. Sherman Hemsley introduced the band. The audience cheered his appearance as the TV show The Jeffersons was very popular then. A few weeks later, the song by Nektar, Show Me the Way, was played on the show while George Jefferson danced to the beat. Hemsley was a hardcore Nektar fan. Nektar played a progressive jam of music. The average length of each song was about twenty minutes. The background was splashed with "psychedelic" lights, lava lamps and hippie slogans. I saw the band again recently; they still have the same basic light show.
- The Cars 1978. On the radio, they announced that tonight one night only, The Cars would be performing their entire debut LP. Tickets were four bucks each. General admission. First come, first served. I skipped school and caught the bus to the Civic, got six tickets, the maximum allowed, called my brother, who got four more people together and we saw the band that night. They did play the entire LP. Afterwards, the lights went on. The band left. The crowd remained, chanting, Morrrrreee! Ric Ocasek returned and told the crowd, “That’s all the fucken songs we know!” and stormed out again. The crowd booed, then exited as well.