This has definitely been the summer for concerts for me. Between my gig as a concert reviewer/photographer and attending some shows for below face value (thanks to craigslist!) or free (thanks to friends) I’ve been to 17 shows since June.
At the end of July, Graham Nash played a solo show at the Hard Rock. He was accompanied by a great guitarist. I enjoyed this show much better than the show with the youth orchestra that he played with in June. Not because of the kids, they were great, but the set list was so much better. After the show, Graham came out and signed for everyone. I have never seen him turn down an autograph request. I had an 11x14 of the Rock Hall and I asked him when his new exhibit was going to open. He smiled and proudly said “October 14!” He then looked right at me and stopped signing for a minute and said “Do you know what the 1st piece of memorabilia I gave them for the exhibit?” I said that I had no idea. He said “Nixon’s signed resignation letter to Kissinger, F him!” We all laughed, as did he and he continued signing for the rest of the fans. I look forward to attending his exhibit when it opens.
Van Halen is my favorite band. I put in to shoot and review the show and I was so stoked that I got an email from Janie Van Halen saying that I was approved! The email said that it was a pit shoot which means we would be right in front of the stage. I would be a few feet from David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen, people that I’ve loved watching on MTV since 1982 and have seen a combined 17 times. I decided to try and see if I could get them to sign at the hotel before the show. After waiting 5 hours, Al eventually comes out. His assistant said “ok, 1 pen, 1 per person, and no pictures.” I can live with those rules. I was more than thrilled to get him on my 1984 album. Wolfgang was next to leave the hotel for his bus and surprisingly he walked out with his mother. I yelled out to him but he just made a b-line to his bus. Eddie was the last to come out and he just smiled and got on the bus. I was disappointed he didn’t sign for the 6 fans that were there. However, he more than made up for it during his performance. The band sounded great and he looked right at me a few times as I was shooting. It was by far, the best concert experience of my life! After the first 3 songs, we had to put our cameras back at guest services, then walk back down to our seats. They gave the photographers 14th row! I was on cloud 9. Check out my review and pics at neomusicscene.com if you would like.
The Football Hall of Fame inductions were held later in the week. I’ve been going down to the Hall of Fame trying to get some freebies since ’99. This year, they decided to have a Concert for Legends featuring Aerosmith. My buddy got approved to shoot the show and I ended up getting a great seat for way less than face value. Instead of getting Football Hall of Famers, I decided to try and get the band. That’s a heck of a week- Van Halen on Monday and Aerosmith on Friday!
I found out where they were staying and went down early Friday to try and catch them before they left for the show. After about 4 hours, Joe Perry is the first to leave. Apparently he signed the night before. I heard his assistant say “These are the same guys that were here yesterday, you already signed for them. If they say they weren’t here, they’re liars, don’t sign!” So without a word, he got to his bus and shut the door. Some guys aren’t happy getting 1 or 2.
Tom Hamilton was next to leave, and he was very nice. He said one each and everyone obliged. He also took a couple of pictures with fans. Brad Whitford, who they guys said hadn’t been seen for days, came out next and also was very accommodating. Then Steven Tyler came out, carrying his dog and signed 1 then got into his limo. He then got out the other side to put something in the trunk. He said in that familiar voice “Guys, I’m already an hour late. I’m so sorry, I just don’t have time.” While people were still hoping he might put down his window, Joey Kramer came out. He also signed for the few fans that weren’t waiting for Steven and he also took a couple of pictures with fans. So I ended up getting 3/5’s of Aerosmith on their first album and Brad and Joey on “Done With Mirrors.” Not too bad! I hadn’t seen Aerosmith in over 20 years and I can say that they still rock and Steven can still sing great! Living Colour opened up for them, and since it was the last show of the tour, they came out and did “Walk This Way” with the band along with the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders. It was a great show.
For the first time since 1998, I did not go down to the Football HOF on Sat. I just wasn’t feeling it this year. My wife even asked if I was sick because I didn’t go down. I did get Fran Tarkenton and Bud Grant on a couple of things through a private signing that a friend of mine put on. It was way cheaper than what they were charging at the HOF.
So Sunday morning I decided to try my luck at the hotel. I guess I just missed Fred Dean and Jim Kelly by 5 minutes. Dang! After about 4 hours of waiting I ended up getting Bob Lilly, Willie Lanier, Ron Yary, Andre Reed, Jan Stenarud, Larry Little and a guy I’ve always missed- Franco Harris. It was well worth the time.
That evening, I got approved to review Creedence Clearwater Revisited. The band consists of 2 original members of CCR (Stu Cook and Doug Clifford) and some other musicians that play the CCR hits. Doug Clifford did not play at this show because he had some recent surgery. The band sounded alright, it is hard to duplicate Fogerty on guitar and vocals but they did a decent job. Three of us waited for Stu to come out to sign. He was the last one out and walked briskly with his head down to the tour bus with no acknowledgement. Whatever dude. I won’t even attempt to get this guy if he was signing at a table for free.
Finally, I went back to the hotel in Canton to try and get a couple of the new inductees before they headed home. Bettis was gone, Tinglehoff gave a wave before he left. However Bill Polian and Ron Wolf both came over and signed for the 20 or so fans that were waiting. I was happy because those were the two guys I really wanted.
Overall it was a great week of music, football and autographs. Even though I didn’t get everyone, my percentage is still pretty high.