Personal concert history, August 23
August 23, 2002: B.B. King / George Thorogood And The Destroyers / Fabulous Thunderbirds - Chastain Park Amphitheatre, Atlanta
I remember Fabulous Thunderbirds being more toothless than I’d imagined they would be in concert, but, of course, “Tuff Enough” woke up the crowd briefly. George Thorogood put on his TedNugentPlaysTheBlues routine and, of course, he was thoroughly entertaining as a performer. It wasn’t like seeing the real thing, but George and his band were definitely devoted acolytes.
B.B. King? As always, B.B. was the real thing. He was assisted out to his chair, sat down, and proceeded to blow us all out of the water with his set. Between the crystal shards of sound he shot over the trees into the Atlanta summer night, his sense of humor, and his apparent timelessness, B.B. satisfied.
As for the picture that I’ve shared here of B.B. from this show, “I’m happy to say that B.B. King personally approved this photo a couple of years later on his bus one night in South Carolina. I had the good fortune to spend a chunk of a night just hanging out with him. While he never did get me to eat anything (though he tried), he sure gave me a memory that I will take with me forever.
Personally, this wasn't my favorite shot that I had of Mr. King, but when he saw this, he gave a big, guttural belly laugh and kept looking at it. It made me nervous at first, and then he said, "You caught it". Huh? "You caught when I caught it. The note. Your picture looks like what it feels like."
Then he looked me in the eyes with a big smile that I'll never forget. I’ve still got my autographed copy of this photo in my downstairs powder room.
I love knowing that he saw it an appreciated it.
As a guitar player, I like to count B.B. among my biggest influences, but hell, I know I can't do what he did. No one can.
But I'm sure glad I got to see him do it, and that we can still listen to his singular work.”
August 23, 2005: Green Day / Jimmy Eat World - Philips Arena, Atlanta
Jimmy Eat World were the Cheap Trick of the '00's. Like Cheap Trick in the '80s and '90s (and now), Jimmy Eat World were the perennial opening act and as long as they did "that one song", the audience was perfectly happy with it. I've kind of felt bad by how "The Middle" has always been the main attraction for Jimmy Eat World but it was the perfect single in its moment.
Green Day, by this point, had exploded in the ‘90s, fallen out of favor around the turn of the millennium, and somehow, rocketed back with a 21st century American version of Quadrophenia called American Idiot.
I remember seeing them on their first big tour. They were raw, unfiltered, over-the-top, and seemed like they could fall apart at any second. That was the charm. A few years later, they were back to opening for bands that they had influenced and it felt different. They knew they had fallen and were determined to fight their way back.
On this night? They knew they were back. They knew they were the biggest “punk” band in history.
Of course, to me, they’re not punk. Really, they're a classic rock band at this point and The Who comparisons felt the most appropriate not just because of the concept album, but in the way they came out of chaotic energy to become a laser sharp rock and roll outfit who, by this point, were pulling every single rock cliche from the great concerts throughout history and working them into their set in such a way that their audience thought they’d invented it.
They put on a hell of a show even if it had all been done before.
Punk? No. Not punk except in a marketing sense. Green Day were the equivalent in 2004 of the classic rock groups from 25 and 30 years before.
Here’s the full set list from this night if you’re interested.
1. American Idiot
2. Jesus Of Suburbia
4. Are We The Waiting
5. St. Jimmy
7. Hitchin’ A Ride
8. Brain Stew
10. Knowledge (Operation Ivy Cover)
11. Basket Case
13. King For A Day
14. Wake Me Up When September Ends
17. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
18. We Are The Champions (Queen Cover)
19. Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)
Oddly, my photo from this night that I'm sharing here wound up in the first book from the Smithsonian Institute devoted to the history of rock and roll. The book also included that photo of B.B. King (from the same date), and pics that I took of Little Richard and James Brown!
August 23, 2012: Iggy Azalea / T.I. / Gucci Mane / B.o.B. - Terminal West, Atlanta
Ugh, this was a miserable night for the grand majority of it.
We waited. And waited. And waited.
This was an Iggy Azalea performance but since it was in Atlanta, we hoped we might catch her mentor T.I. joining her onstage. The odds seemed good.
After an hour, it was irritating. After two hours of waiting, we went back and told the rep that this was bullshit and not worth our time. We were urged to stay and expect surprises.
After three hours, I was walking out the door. I figured they weren’t showing and I had more than an hour to drive to get home.
On the way out, the rep grabbed my arm. "They’re about to go on now, and yes, T.I. is here. You can be anywhere you want. Onstage. Offstage. Whatever, just please stay. There are other guests, too. It will be worth the wait."
As I wrote at the time:
“Suddenly, at a 12:15 am start time, everything went crazy. Not only did Iggy Azalea come out and tear Terminal West At King Plow apart, but she brought T.I., B.o.B and Gucci Mane out. They encouraged us to shoot the whole show, let us go anywhere we wanted (including the side of the stage) and generally, let us get some of the most interesting shots of my 12 years of doing this.
I haven't seen that side of 2 am while being out in a long time. I'm worn out, have endless editing to do and I have 2 shoots tonight.
Still, it was all worth it.”
Yes, my shots from that night were published all over the world. The show wound up all over the world. They shot some video that night and I was told I could be seen in it, but I never saw it. Iggy, of course, blew up and became a huge star (if just for a moment), not long after this, so the timing was perfect.
August 23, 2013: Cheech And Chong / WAR / Tower Of Power - Chastain Park Amphitheatre, Atlanta
This one? This one is something I never thought I’d see on multiple fronts.
The age-defying Shelby Chong did a brief opening set and then, in all their glory, came Cheech And Chong.
It was so bizarre to see them do classic bits that I first heard when I barely had double digits in my age. I first heard the "Dave's not here" bit sneaking listens to my friend Lori Young's mom's old vinyl records.
Cheech And Chong were the stars of the first R-rated movie I managed to weasel into without parental supervision.
Of course, compared to the offensive comedy around in the 21st century, Cheech And Chong appear almost quaint.
Yes, of course, all of Chastain suddenly smelled like pot within moments. It made sense, but that's not why I was here.
For me, this was just a unique opportunity to see the previously off limits comics from my youth (and from Showtime after hours) and feeling some kind of continuity that these guys were still alive and together, reunited as survivors, and still making people laugh like hell.
Tower Of Power? Cool. I loved hearing “What Is Hip” live after all these years and, face it, “So Very Hard To Go” is one of the most beautiful hits of the ‘70s, even if it’s often forgotten now. Fantastic musicians.
Yes, WAR has a lot of replacement members, but these guys did a great approximation.
While the draw this night was Cheech And Chong, WAR finished out the night, but what we didn’t expect was that after hearing WAR do “Me And Baby Brother”, “Slipping’ Into Darkness”, “The Cisco Kid”, “The World Is A Ghetto” (my favorite) and “Summer”, Cheech And Chong returned to the stage for the funniest damn jam I’ve ever seen.
Yes, backed up by the members of WAR, Cheech And Chong did “Earache My Eye” as well as “Mexican Americans” (They also did Chong’s song with the title I can’t say on social media) from Next Movie.
Hell, they even did “The Star Spangled Banner” and, of course, it culminated in “Born In East L.A.”. Live. Crazy.
A note from my diary on the way the show ended.
“Sadly, the show was cut off in the middle of "Why Can't We Be Friends" because of curfew so we missed a couple of WAR's biggest hits, including “Low Rider”. What an unceremonious end to a fun night. Still, fun nights are always gold.