The very first concert I ever saw was Alice Cooper, on the Raise Your Fist and Yell tour. My friend Devon went with me. Ace Frehley, former guitarist for Kiss, opened the show with his Frehley’s Comet solo act. The next concert I saw was The Beastie Boys, on their License to Ill tour. I went with my neighbor Leon. To this day, I’m amazed that my parents permitted me to attend either of these concerts. Of course, I’m deeply grateful, since both concerts were wildly entertaining.
Over the years, I’ve made it a point to see concerts of bands I really like. For a long time, my favorite concert was Iron Maiden's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, for which Megadeth opened. My mom not only let me play hookie from school in order to buy tickets to the show, she drove me to Buzzard’s Nest Records and politely waited in the car while I waited in line with all the long-haired Iron Maiden fans. I bought tickets for myself and a handful of friends, but due to seat availability I wasn’t able to get us all seated together: four seats were the middle of row nine, and two seats were on the aisle in row eleven. I gave the aisle seats to Heidi and her friend, and took the center seats for myself, Andy, Morgan and Morgan’s brother. The concert was phenomenal, and really sticks out in my mind as one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. Iron Maiden was energetic, and Bruce Dickinson really engaged the audience. Unbeknownst to me, Dave Mustaine from Megadeth came out onto the floor during Iron Maiden’s set and stood in the aisle right next to row eleven. He ended up giving Heidi and her friends backstage passes! I was jealous for years afterward.
As I get older, and as the number of concerts I’ve seen increases, I’m beginning to realize that I want more than just a reproduction of the music from the album. I (usually) already know the music: I want the band to give me something I can’t get on the CD. I love going to see They Might Be Giants, for example, because they do fun – oftentimes silly – stuff during their shows. They interact with the audience. OK GO is another band that really gives the audience something more. When one of the guitar strings broke, several members of the band started acting out a scene from Les Misérables, complete with outrageous French accents, while the instrument was restrung. (Contrast that with my experience with Ted Leo + Pharmacists).
The twins have been complaining for a couple of years now that we never take them to concerts. Some of the acts that Carina and I have seen aren’t necessarily kid-friendly. And of course most gigs don’t really get started until the twins’ bedtime, anyway. That being the case, I’ve long wished for a concert to which we could take the twins, in order to share that experience together as a family. The opportunity finally came this year at the Ohio State Fair: Weird Al Yankovic was playing!
Carina got me Straight Outta Lynwood for Christmas, along with a collection of Weird Al videos on DVD. The twins have delighted in watching the DVDs, and I’ve delighted in watching them sing the Weird Al version of songs that play on the radio. It’s funny that they only know the Weird Al versions of songs.
My complaint about concerts which simply reproduce the music is null and void when it comes to Weird Al. Although he doesn’t tell amusing anecdotes, or really interact with the audience much at all, his is still an excellent concert. I saw Weird Al a couple years ago, and had an absolute blast – and I had every bit as much fun at his concert last night. He’s an incredible performer, and his music is just so much fun to listen to (and sing along with). The twins enjoyed the show, but I think it was a little longer than Tyler would have liked – she only grudgingly stayed for the encore. Tayler shrieked with delight and clapped furiously when Amish Paradise began, and she sang every word right in time with Al.
Weird Al wears many different costumes during his shows (my favorite being the fat suit from Fat). During costume changes amusing videos are played, to keep the audience entertained. Most of these are fake interviews between Al and other famous musicians. During one such interview with Michael Stipe, Al encouraged Michael to suggest lyrics for a song on which they could collaborate, and Al would put it to music. Michael is next shown saying, somewhat dismissively, “We all have cell phones now. Come on, get real.” Al then begins to sing those words as though it were part of a ballad.
When Al came back for his encore, he said “I know what you all really want to hear,” and then proceeded to sing a full ballad version of “We all have cell phones now. Come on, get real”. As I looked about the concert hall, everyone was holding up their cell phone! It was quite an amazing thing to see all those cell phones, and to realize just how ubiquitous they are! Al finished the night by performing the full 11 minute version of Albuquerque.
I bought a shirt for each of the girls, and one for myself. I think it’s important to commemorate their very first concert. I hope they had as much fun at their first concert as I did at mine; and I hope they get to see at least many gigs as I’ve seen.