Last Time Around: Old-Time Rockers

Genesis has announced their American/Canadian leg of their The Last Domino? tour. I believe it is safe to assume this could be the last Genesis tour, although if it goes well there might be more dates added later. Not only are these guys well into senior citizen status, but Phil Collins is barely mobile. If you check the locations and ticket prices of the concert, you will need to empty your retirement account to afford to attend.

I love Genesis, but thankfully, they will not be coming close to where I am. Single ticket prices range from $120 for a nose bleed seat to nearly $2,000 for a floor seat. In some locations there are “add-ons” for the VIP experience, like a glass of bubbly with the band or even dinner, for a small fortune. I have only seen Genesis once, in the late 1970s, a concert I barely remember, but glad I went. The cost was probably under $20 for both tickets.

I’m picking on Genesis, but these farewell tours are bigger, longer and more expensive than ever. You know the saying, tomorrow is not promised, and that is true. Many of the bands and musicians I follow are on the cusp of retirement or death. The last several years (pre-pandemic), I have intentionally made an effort to attend concerts of older performers aware that it could be the last time. More than once I caught myself thinking, “I wish I had purchased tickets to that concert.” About the time the pandemic hit, I was considering scaling back my concert-going, having reached a point of tiring of the drive to venues, traffic and weather. I may reconsider that policy.

Here are some folks I saw at the very end of their careers:

Gregg Allman – His last concert tour before he passed.

Johnny Winter – He was in very bad shape, sitting down to play and very stooped over. The playing was great, but sad to see him in that condition.

Leon Russell – He toured relentlessly till he couldn’t. He rode a scooter to get around, but talked to fans and signed item on his bus.

Kris Kristofferson – Saw him at a solo gig a few years before he parked the tour bus for good. Incredibly nice man.

Glen Campbell – This concert was not long before it was announced that he was ill. His playing was sharp but it was apparent that something was not right. We snuck backstage and he was very kind and unassuming.

Dick Dale – The King of the Surf Guitar, playing small clubs as a senior citizen. This was how he paid for his medications. He could still rock, and damn was he loud!

Tom Petty – I was thrilled to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on the anniversary tour, which was also his last. This was the only time I ever saw him perform. He was quite a showman. He’s missed.

Rusty Young (Poco) – I saw Poco on their last trip through the area. Young kept the band going as the only original member left. He was kind and valued the fans. He died suddenly from a heart attack.

Chris Squire (Yes) – I have probably seen Yes more than any other band. I had front row tickets to see the band but it was the night my father-in-law passed away. I preferred to stay with him. Squire died not long after that. I have seen the band since then but I miss the uniqueness of Chris Squire.

Peter Frampton – I have seen Frampton several times including his last tour after announcing his illness. Every time I saw him in-person, he was funny and friendly.

Concerts I attended where the opportunity is gone or will not come again:

Electric Light Orchestra – They had broken big in America, but not superstar status yet. This was the classic line-up with the strings. Jeff Lynne has his version of ELO, but the classic lineup is legend.

Crosby, Stills & Nash – I believe this was their last tour together. They have broken up due to personality differences. At that time they were struggling to recreate their magic.

Gary Wright – The Dream Weaver was on an oldies tour when I saw him. He played only a few songs, but they were the hits.

Supertramp – At the peak of their popularity, what a great concert. A remnant of the band is still around, but not the same.

Mick Taylor – The former Rolling Stone was playing a small club. I’ve never heard that he’s been back in the area.

Judy Collins – She appeared as the opening act with Don McLean. She performed solo, just Judy and her guitar. Her voice was still strong and magical. Back in 1979, I saw Judy with a full band. Two very different kinds of concerts.

Donovan – The British folk singer had peaked in popularity then, but was still at the top of his game. I’ve never heard of him touring this area since.

Gordon Lightfoot – I did not see him in prime, actually just a couple of years ago. That warm, soulful voice is just more than a whisper now, but he’s adapted. He’s frail, but that hasn’t slowed him in stage.

Brian Wilson – A rare opportunity to see this brilliant songwriter. Performing Pet Sounds and his hits. Accompanied by Al Jardine and Blondie Chapman, and a versatile band, he was able to recreate The Beach Boys sound for nearly two hours.

Paul McCartney – He tours a lot, which is incredible at his age. I saw him several years ago, probably the most I’ve ever spent, but it was well worth it. If he tours in this area again, I’ll be there.

Art Garfunkel – He rarely tours and I saw him near his prime. Such an amazing voice.

Roger McGuinn – Leader of The Byrds, he performed solo, and playing a wide variety of songs and styles. He never had the solo success that he deserved, but he created a memorable evening of folk and rock delight.

Aerosmith – The classic lineup. Saw them nearly 30 years ago after they had regrouped and sober. Drummer Joey Kramer’s membership in the band is tenuous, so seeing the classic lineup again may not be possible.

Ray Davies – The closest I’ll get to seeing the Kinks. Davies was on a solo tour and was splendid with stories and songs old and new. The Kinks touring again?

Chicago – I’ve seen them numerous times, but the 1975 concert was the best. It had the original lineup, they were still a rock and roll band and we were right at the front. In 2021 there are only three original members and I’m not a fan of their more recent work.

The Doobie Brothers – They still are active and I’ve seen them a few times. Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston are the only remaining original members. Seeing then in 1976 had the second classic lineup. Michael McDonald was in the band and Johnston was with the band on tour, but his membership was unofficial.

Other concerts that were timeless: U2, Stones, The Who, Moody Blues and Steely Dan.


5 thoughts on “Last Time Around: Old-Time Rockers

  1. That’s an impressive list of shows. I’ve seen the majority of these bands and artists as well.

    While Genesis are one of the few prog rock bands I’ve listened to, and I like their earlier songs, I don’t think I’d spend the big bucks to see them. On the other hand, I’d be willing to invest to see Paul McCartney for the third time, even though his voice has noticeably changed.

    I envy you for CSN, Aerosmith and Ray Davies. But as you said, there have been rumors about a Kinks reunion, so there might be another opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The one rub with seeing the “mature artists” is that their catalogs are so large, they can’t do them all. So they’ll resort to medleys. I went to see Rush. They were so wrapped up in their newer stuff — this is way after their Grace Under Pressure days, and the hits stopped coming (and the newer stuff wasn’t all that great) — that the old classics got short changed . . . into medleys.

    As for the memories vs. time: I’ve seen Quiet Riot in their heyday and the barely holding on days, and it was sad to watch. Saxon, however, still holds up well, and they do vary their sets to get their classics (from their first five albums) in there.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it’s very rare that I dig the later, live rearrangements. I don’t want them to Milli Vanilli it, as it were; I want that “live” juice, after all, but not wildly off the mark of the original. (Again, Rush is bad in that regard.) The older bands — such as this new Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Poison tour — we’re there for the nostalgia. So when they get too arty re-inventive, they lose me, as they kill the memories I came for.

        Liked by 1 person

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