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Mike B

Rockers getting old... Stills & Collins

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Drove out to Tanglewood (Lenox, Mass) yesterday for this show - Stephen Stills and Judy Collins. This venue hosts a smattering of rock or folk shows during the summer but their principle draw is the Boston Symphony Orchestra or Boston Pops shows.
Large 'shed' venue with lawn seating behind it (with no views and only 2 tv screens).

Thought we would get a set from each performer and a few songs together, but instead Stephen and Judy were on stage together for the whole show with the exception of a couple of songs. The best-performed songs were Judy's, the backing band (keys, bass, drums) were ok, but the overall playing was very loose most of the time.
Stephen never got things together on the guitar (he was doing all the leads) until the end). They did a bunch of cover songs, opening with the Traveling Wilbury's 'Handle With Care', which they changed to 'Handle ME With Care'. Stills did a lackluster version of Petty's 'I Won't Back Down' while Collins took a song break. The best cover they did was Leonard Cohen's 'Everybody Knows' which is on the latest album they released together.
The final songs of the show were 'For What It's Worth' and 'Bluebird', which finally got Stills going on guitar. Collins played 12 string acoustic rhythm for most songs, switching to a 6 string acoustic for just a few songs.
Encores were 'Houses', a song Stills wrote and Collins recorded in 72 after they had broken up, and a partial version of 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes'.

 

Last time I saw Stills was in 2003, he was extremely overweight then, addicted to I don't know what, and could barely sing - but he still played guitar pretty good.  His singing was marginally better yesterday, but his playing, well ... it was embarrassing at times.  I noticed Collins giving him "a smile" a couple of times after the leads that just didn't work or that he literally gave up on.  And when he went off-key, then pulled the note correct, I saw a guy with teen son in the row in front of me smile at each other knowingly (incidentally, they were the only other ones I saw there wearing Stills-related tshirts - the father had on a 2006 tour shirt, the teen a Neil Young shirt.  I had on my 202 Deja Vu-style tour shirt0.

Collins had a large tablet on a stand in front of her for lyrics.  She didn't use it every song, but probably should have, as she messed up the lyrics on 'Chelsea Morning', forgetting then stumbling and singing "forgot the words" for a line.  She also forgot to put a capo on her 12 string on the 2nd song and she had to stop the song and have the band restart.

 

So... at what point should people stop doing concerts - at least large scale ones (this place seats over 5000 people and lawn seating outside can hold thousands more)?  I've seen a number of 'older' (quotes because some were younger than I am!) rockers in the last few years bumble around on stage.  I understand that some NEED to do it because of the money, and others just LIKE to play shows.  But when people are playing big $$ for tickets, don't they deserve a professional show?  5000 seats X $75 a ticket average is $375000 - I don't know how much the performers get out of that (and they appeared to have a truck and two big tour buses, plus band, crew, agents, etc that all have to get paid) but am I wrong?

You can say 'vote with your wallet - don't go to the shows', and I do make those decisions regularly, but I do like to go to concerts, too. For many of the acts I've seen in the last few years, I realize that it will no doubt be the last opportunity I get to see that performer - due to their age, not because I wouldn't spend the money on a ticket again.

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Other than that, it was a pretty awesome concert? LOLOL! Yeah, I can see it if the event were free, or very low priced, but not for that kind of money when the performance is far from what it used to be.

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I went to go see Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams and Dwight Yoakam this past weekend.  Lucinda Williams was off key and reading from a music stand when she sat in to do a song during Steve Earle's set.  I was surprised she would be so off key, but I guess it is forgivable since it wasn't her song.  But then she did her whole set with a music stand, constantly looking down to find her place.  These were her own songs that she's been singing for years!  I'm pretty sure she was either liquored up or on drugs.  She seemed to be barely hanging on through the whole thing.  It's the first time I can remember seeing someone relying on a music stand at a professional concert.  I see it at open mics all the time, but even the open mic people know looking down at music stands detracts from a performance.

 

Dwight Yoakam, on the other hand, was awesome!  And his guitarist Eddie Perez is one of my new favorite guitarists.  So much fun to watch.

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SOK - well, they did call that tour the 'LSD' tour!  A lot of performers are using teleprompters these days, specially the older ones.

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There's no one size fits all for old folks!  I just saw John Fogerty a few weeks ago. Stellar. His voice was fine form, honestly, I couldn't believe how good his voice stil sounded. And tight show, one song to next. Kenny Aronoff was on drums, which in and of itself was a treat. 

 

I saw Lucinda Williams last year, and while, you know, she's never going to be the tightest performer, it was still a heart felt show, imo. 

 

Loretta Lynn put on a good show, with certain concessions made for her age. At one point she took a chair for part of the show, and she also had her family members sing a few too, but it didn't feel wrong to me.

 

Merle Haggard wss still touring in the years before his passing, and about bought me to tears.

 

I can understand the disappointment with what you considered a lax show, but there are still some performers well worth seeing.  

 

How did Judy Collins voice sound?

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I just saw Weezer on Kimmel recently. The singer had a laptop propped open in front of him. He was obviously using it to read lyrics. I like seeing that. I use a music stand when I play out. I don’t feel as bad about it knowing professionals do the same. In defense of Weezer. It was a new release and a cover of Africa by Toto. Still thought he could’ve learned the words. In defense of myself. I have 40 or 50 songs to choose from. I have most memorized pretty well. But still need a glance once in awhile to keep me on track. Weezer sounded great BTW. Most of the bands I see are still young enough to pull everything off. Anyone hear Vince Neil of Motley Crue these days? He was always vocally challenged live. But now it is very hard to watch. I can’t believe they still throw him out there. 

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23 hours ago, 9thStLine said:

How did Judy Collins voice sound?

Still pristine.

 

"Older" performers:

Saw Ian Anderson's 'Jethro Tull - the Rock Opera' 2 years ago, he had some younger singers do many of the songs.  Playing was still good.  The band and whole show were tightly rehearsed.

Todd Rundgren (a fave) - seen some well-rehearsed shows, and also spontaneous-type shows with the expected flubs.  Amazingly, he never messes up the words (turns 70 in 2 days, too!) but the guitar playing can be sloppy at times.

Jon Anderson, solo, a couple of years ago - never caught a mistake, and puts such feeling into his songs.

Roger Daltrey/Pete Townshend - they know their current age-related limits, and every show is a masterpiece.

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