Saturday, September 3, 2011

Neil Young - August 20, 1987

His first appearance at this venue on the "Life" tour with Crazy Horse.  Neil played several more shows over the next two decades here and was a consistent draw at Merriweather.  This concert also hosted the song debut of  "One of These Days", released on the subsequent "Harvest Moon" album later in 1992.  The "Life" album was released a month earlier and was Neil Young's first album with Crazy Horse in almost a decade.  It was also his final album with Geffen and remains his all-time least successful studio album.

 Although not a great album or time for Neil's recording achievements, this concert still appears to have been classic Neil Young and featured many of his best known material played with some of his favorite collaborators.

This is audio from that August evening:

"Cinnamon Girl"

"Down by the River"

More pics from that tour... 

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Genesis - June 14, 1980

The second appearance by the group at Merriweather on their "Duke" tour, which began in March in the UK. By now, Genesis had become more mainstream but still filled the set with their classic material. I noticed a different audience then at the previous show just two years earlier - obviously due to the more radio friendly materiel and videos which attracted a younger crowd pulled in by the radio hits. The hardcore fans however were still treated to a great show.  Phil Collins sported a full beard and ran furiously between the front of the stage and back to his drums at various points, assisting excellent (local) tour drummer Chester Thompson.

The tour again featured Chester and also Daryl Stuermer on guitar, with Mike Rutherford using his double neck guitar at times.  Chester and Daryl were incredible finds and made a career touring with the group since the 1978 tour. Daryl later went on to write and tour with Phil and in 1989 co-wrote Phil's Grammy Award Winning, Billboard #4 single, "Something Happened On the Way to Heaven."

The audio below from this show features "Turn it on Again" released on the "Duke" album which also was the name of the groups 2007 world tour:

Get the original recording at iTunes - "Turn it on Again"

More pics...

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Extra info: A complete list of equipment used on this tour

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Allman Brothers - July 19, 1979

With a long history of shows at Merriweather, this was their first of what would be eighteen shows to date.  The band had been through many changes and this show was a great line-up and a lively performance.  The group had just recently reformed, after splitting apart in 1976 due to drug issues, legal conflicts and numerous tensions between band members. While their recent album, Enlightened Rougues, released in February, was well received, with some great guitar work between Dickey Betts and new addition, Dan Toler, the band was still in serious trouble.

Their record label, Capricorn, collapsed later in the year due to financial issues, and Southern Rock simply was losing popularity amidst the punk and new wave revolution. By 1982, the band would again break up, and stay apart for almost 7 years.

These excellent recordings are from that 1979 show -

I always found "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" an incredible mix of jazz, southern rock and blues as well as a masters exercise in guitar workmanship.  This recording was taken directly from the soundboard that evening:

This recording of "Ramblin' Man" was the band's biggest chart hit:

The Set List
1. Don't Want You No More 
2. It's Not My Cross To Bear
3. Can't Take It With You  
4. Blue Sky
5. Need Your Love So Bad
6. Crazy Love
7. Just Ain't Easy
8. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
9. Statesboro Blues
10. Try It One More Time  
11. One Way Out
12. Southbound
13. Whipping Post
14. Ramblin' Man
15. Midnight Rider  

The Doors - August 30, 1968

One of the earliest legendary concerts at Merriweather with the great Jim Morrison lighting up the stage in Columbia.  After they finished off their extended East coast tour on August 4 in Philadelphia, and six months of constant touring, they took a three week rest for the coming European tour.  Still, in order not to lose focus, they got back on the road on this date with a short but rather effective warm-up tour on the Northeast coast before hitting Europe in September.

These were not sold-out shows but none of them was short in attendance and sold quite well despite the fact they were late additions and there was no time for advertising. This was the first of the four shows they were scheduled to play in three days.

This show that night was luckily videotaped for inclusion in a movie which the band agreed to make - a documentary of the '68 tour with film school friend Paul Ferrara as director of photography.  The film ("Feast of Friends") ended up essentially being a mess (live sound in parts were unusable) and it was bascially shelved.  Merriweather was one of the shows taped for inclusion in the film.

This video below was supposedly from that 1968 Merriweather show based on researching shots from the film with known stills as well as audience recollections.  It really captures the intensity that Morrison and the band delivered.  It begins with Jim telling the Merriweather lighting crew to turn the lights down as he was back on stage for an encore of "The End" and the lights were still left on as though the concert was over.  Crazy this rock legend was on that stage over 43 years ago:

"The End"

Get original recording at iTunes - The End

The Set List
1. Back Door Man
2. Five To One
3.  Break On Through
4. When The Music's Over
5. The Crystal Ship
6. Soul Kitchen
7. Celebration Of The Lizard
8. Rock Me
9. Light My Fire
10. The End

More from 1968...

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Yes - August 13, 1972

Just after recording "Closer to the Edge" and opened at the concert by "The Eagles", this was a great show punctuated by another stormy Maryland summer afternoon which had lightening and rain chasing the audience and the musicians.  The seminal album was released a month later. The group played to a lively audience who were invited into the covered areas by Jon Anderson as the rain poured on saying, "everybody from the back come and sit on everybody’s knee and we’ll have a good time".  Clearly, most did and the recording below proves that with the rain stopping for the finale.

The group is very much at ease in a live concert and bantered with the crowd.  Steve Howe has a two song solo spot right in the middle of the set.  Anderson seems to struggle with the introduction and Howe says, “Take it easy.” Anderson then sings The Eagles’ song “Take it easy…  we’d like to listen to Steve play.”

This track from that show is classic Yes and would be played several more times in the next four appearances here by the group over the next three decades:

"I've Seen All Good People"

Get the original recording at iTunes - "I've Seen All Good People"


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Who - May 25, 1969

A warm-up show for the most notorious concert at Merriweather the following summer (posting soon).

With a relatively unknown at the time Led Zepplin as the open act, what began with broken fences, rowdy crowds and overwhelmed secuity ended with memories of one hell of a show.  Although Zeppelin had only released their first album months earlier, they did impress some but not all.  Many recount that when The Who finally came on, they blew the opener away.  Their "Tommy" themed concert the following June drastically changed the venues booking of rock concerts for several years and became early 70's folklore.

Several recount how the Who's crew had to literally pull the plug on Zeppelin's set as they were over their time allotment for their set and the venue had a sound curfew.  Many would be able to sit miles away from the Pavilion and hear the shows - a benefit that would be short lived in the following years when engineers would comb the wooded area with sound meters evaluating the noise levels.  This resulted later in the exterior speakers mounted on the top rear of the covered Pavilion facing the lawn to be shut-off.  Many also mention how loud the group was that night and that fans were sitting on speakers with some hanging from the rafters.  Fences were breached, but this was nothing compared to the subsequent June 1970 show.

This audio is a track recorded at that memorable show - wish I had been there:

"I'm Free"

Get the original recording at iTunes - The Who - I'm Free


DJ Barry Richards Backstage at Merriweather with the Who 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hendrix - August 16, 1968

The one act everyone always mentions when they talk about Merriweather history - Jimi Hendrix. Many are surprised to learn that the venue that began hosting the National Symphony Orchestra also had the worlds greatest guitarist on stage less than a year after opening. Those premiere years where a crazy mix of acts: the Doors, Frank Sinatra with Chivas in hand, Janis Joplin.  But no one act in the last 44 years is mentioned with as much awe as Hendrix. Jimi and the Experience toured with Soft Machine for this leg of his 1968 tour and was only two short years away from leaving behind a legacy of music.

That concert day began cloudy and as the concert went on it started to heavily rain and thunder.  According to lucky attendees, the lawn crowd moved toward the covered pavilion and were evidently let in as Jimi coaxed them saying, “let them in” and “Rainy Day, dream Away” and when the thunder started he started playing back to it with some feedback.

They played a busy 45-minute set and at times, it appeared Jimi was fighting back the thunder with feedback from his Marshall stacks.  He gave the show all had expected, including playing his guitar behind his back, with his teeth and leaving all blown away.

 The Set List (48 m) 

1. Are You Experienced
2. Rock Me Baby
3. Foxy Lady
4. Hey Joe
5. Fire
6. I Don't Live Today
7. Purple Haze
8. Wild Thing / Star Spangled Banner

This audio of "Hey Joe" is pretty good, considering it's age and multi-generation status.  Still hard to believe that Hendrix stood on the same stage that exists today.  This was the concert to be at:

"Hey Joe"

Get the original recording at iTunes - Jimi hendrix - Hey Joe

More stuff from the show...

Opening act - Soft Machine

One week later at the Virginia Beach Dome, August 21, 1968 - photos by Bill Stokley

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Genesis - July 25, 1978

Another of my favorite shows, this was the concert tour that followed the April release of the "And Then There Were Three" album, in which Phil Collins continued to step out in front following Peter Gabriel's departure earlier.  The groups songs also moved to became more radio friendly.  The song "Follow You Follow Me" from the album became Genesis' first hit US single.  This was the first appearance at Merriweather by the band, followed by the Duke tour some two years later and then again in 1982.  By then, they had turned from a cult group to a pop act attracting a very different audience than the early years of Peter Gabriel's theatrical productions.

I had only really became interested in Genesis in early 1978 with the release of ATTWT and was already finding my way backwards in their rich catalog when this concert came up and cemented me as a future hard core Genesis fan.  The show featured an impressive stage set-up which included large rotating mirrors which would direct light into the audience and around the stage, as well as lasers which also were used to create themes for the songs ("The Cage").  Turns out they had helped invent the Vari-Lite automated light technology which changed the concert lighting industry and they premiered it on their subsequent "Abacab" tour in Barcelona in 1981.  This 1978 show also featured the first addition of local native Chester Thompson on drums and Darryl Stuermer on guitar.

This audio of "Ripples" from that evening is excellent and is only missing a time machine:

Get the original recording at iTunes - Genesis - Ripples


"And Then There Were Three"

Darryl Stuermer & Chester Thompson in the line up

An interesting story of an Atlantic Records guy who describes his job the day of this concert.  Some really interesting tidbits of his two days at Merriweather in the summer of '78:

 "The summer of 1978 started with a bang. The Spinners an R & B act with crossover hits would be my first live act of the summer. In mid July I got a call from Perry Cooper who was one of the heads of A & R at Atlantic. Genesis was coming to the Merriweather Post Pavilion; a 10,000 seat shed with grass that could hold another 5-7,000 people. They were booked for two nights;25th and 26th July. Perry asked me to set some things up and get back to him"... 
Read the rest - "The Diary of an A&R Man"

Led Zepplin - May 25, 1969

Although I did not attend this much recounted concert, it was mostly known for two things: it was the only pairing of Led Zepplin and The Who (headliner) and it also became a turning point for the then new concert facility which suffered physical damage and a huge PR problem due to a raucous crowd of some 20,000.

According to those who were there, Zeppelin was still much of an unknown and played an energetic, no frills set which got them notice for the throngs there to see the headliner (as well as the ire of Who management who needed to get them off the stage due to a curfew at the pavilion).  As the The Who played on, the crowds were crashed through the fences and swarmed the facility, burning golf carts and an out building and overwhelming the police and security.

At a time when noise ordinances were not yet enforced, according to some the band was very loud, even on the lawn.  As the masses descended towards the stage and hung from the rafters, this show and the infamous Who show one year later caused a rethinking of rock concerts at the facility and a tempering of large draw acts for a few years.  Luckily that changed by the early 70's.

Before the encores at a Robert Plant & Alison Krauss concert at Merriweather in early 2011, Plant tells the audience about a phone call he received from former Led Zeppelin tour manager Richard Cole.  He was reminded that back in May 1969 Led Zeppelin opened for The Who at the Merriweather Post Pavilion calling the headliners “that band, those miserable bastards,” and there was so much damage caused that night that they had to give their earnings back. This brings great cheers among the crowd to which he cheekily followed up with “And next week, Iron Maiden!”

This recording from that night is supposedly only the second time this song was played live in concert and shows the powerhouse they were to become:

"Whole Lotta Love"

Get the original recording at iTunes - Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin

More Stuff from the show...


Pink Floyd - June 20, 1973

Pink Floyd's two Merriweather concerts in June of 1973 are my favorites.  Essentially a stop in the short U.S. tour for "The Dark Side of the Moon" album that was recently released, they were relatively unknown to many on this side of the pond. Their future single "Money" was just released that same month, reaching number 13 on the Billboard 100  for 1973.  It was also the only song on the seminal album that made it into the Top 20.  For those who were there, most find it cemented in their minds and are able to recall many of the details - the real mark of a great show.  It's memory urged me to start this blog.

This concert on that warm late June evening was performed during a huge rainstorm and was set-up in an expansive quad sound arrangement with large speakers placed in the rear corners of the lawn area near the fences. The aural display with the swirling effects in several of the tracks was enough to leave lasting memories for all who were lucky enough to be there.  I would safely say that anyone who left those stunning shows was soon shortly in the possession of a DKSOTM album, which most would still have somewhere nearby today.

Earls Court, 1973

This audio of "Money" from the first night is from a popular sound recording known as "Breaking Bottles in the Hall" and has pretty good sound for the time:


Get the original recording at iTunes - Money - Pink Floyd

More audio from that show:

"Us and Them"

For an interesting treat, this is a demo recording of "Money" Roger Water's made in a garden shed.