I have seen Steely Dan five or six times since they began to play live again after a hiatus of 20 years or so. Since I had missed them in their earlier incarnation, I wasn't about to now. This show took place at the San Jose Civic Auditorium in downtown, an arena that served as the home of the Santa Clara University Broncos basketball team when they were a West Coast powerhouse in the 60's and early 70's. It was a venue that also hosted numerous concerts, and I saw the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Mamas and the Papas, The Association and others here. Today the name has changed but it has been gussied up and is an outstanding music venue. In 2009 I was using the Canon Powershot G9, a black brick that I could safely get into concerts. It's much noisier than my newer model Sony, but did an adequate job. Steely Dan is not a visual band in any respect. It's all about the music and they always deliver, at least to my ears. Nice lighting too! One of my "Desert Island disc" bands for sure.
Monday, February 16, 2015
The Rolling Stones played a couple of shows at the Cow Palace in Daly City in 1975. The show I saw took place on July 15th, The tickets were in great demand, but in those days, nothing sold out in six minutes like it happens today. There was almost always a way to get a ticket if you absolutely had to be there. I have zero recollection of how I managed to score a seat to this show. Maybe Dana again. A great year for the greatest Rock and Roll band in the world. Photos taken on Kodak Ektachrome.
For a period of years that I cannot pin down, Van Morrison lived in the greater Bay Area, Marin County to be exact, and performed all over the place. I saw him probably 30 times in a myriad of venues. I did not always have a camera in those years, so my opportunities for photographic adventures were limited. These photos were taken in small clubs or theaters where the lighting left a lot to be desired. The bottom two shots are from the Odyssey Room in Sunnyvale, a very small club on the El Camino Real about 10 minutes from my home. I literally couldn't believe he was playing there! Nevertheless, there he was with his band from the second two records. This is from May of 1973. The two shots above that are from Santa Clara University's Mayer Theater in October of 1976 on the "Wavelength" tour, his worst album by a long shot. Synths all over the place. The top two photographs are from the Keystone Palo Alto, another small venue, in January of 1980. This was a truly great show with John Lee Hooker guesting. Van is probably my all-time favorite recording artist. though sometimes his live shows have been less than stellar.
On a hot August afternoon, the 9th, in 1975, my friend Dana asked if I wanted to see Eric Clapton at Frost Amphitheater on the campus of Stanford University. "Are you kidding me?" I responded. Naturally, we had great access in the pit below the stage, but not backstage as I was coming to accept as a given whenever Dana called. Regardless, it was a great show with Carlos Santana guesting on the Who's "Eyesight to the Blind" from Tommy. Bell bottom pants were certainly in style. Eric was in great spirits, and a bootleg cassette of the show reveals he was in terrific form as well. An all-time favorite concert for me.
Monday, February 9, 2015
These photographs are from the Action for Research for Multiple Sclerosis concert at the Cow Palace in Daly City, south of San Francisco, in December of 1983. This was an exceptional all-star gathering of friends of Ronnie Lane of the Small Faces who gathered together for a concert in London and then extended the dates to America to raise money for the disease. It was the first time the three former lead guitarists of the Yardbirds performed together on the same stage: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. Joining them were Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company, the late Joe Cocker, a rhythm section that included Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, and a cast of supporting British musical heavyweights. My friend Dana Jang got us great seats as well as backstage passes, and I found myself chatting with Eric Clapton while we watched Joe Cocker and Bill Wyman playing a competitive game of ping-pong. I didn't recognize Clapton at first as he was clean shaven, looking nothing like the guy I had seen so many times in the past. He wasn't wearing the blue shark-skin suit seen in the photographs either.I can't remember if the music was stellar or not. Just seeing all these great musicians in the same place was good enough.
In November of 1978, 1979, and 1980, Bob Dylan took over the Warfield Theater in San Francisco for three 2-week runs of shows, mostly showcasing his gospel albums from the same time period. While I was not a fan of the artistic move on his part, it was a great opportunity to see him in a small venue (the Warfield is basically a very nice movie theater) where they allowed cameras and fairly unfettered access to move around. The Warfield was then, as it remains today, located in a seedy stretch of Market Street, so the walk to the venue and back again to my car was somewhat unpleasant. Once inside, however, the ambiance and acoustics were first-rate. I have very few specific memories of the concert and, since I didn't love the music, I was free to focus (no pun intended) on getting the best shots possible. No one bothered me, I was relatively discreet, and took about 270 photographs. Today, with digital, I would have taken many more. These days Dylan is obsessed with not allowing photographs at his shows. It seems remarkable to look back and see how free we were to photograph whatever we wanted. I have spent the past three weeks scanning and Photoshopping a large number of slides and negatives from those days and will be posting some of them in the next few weeks.I was using a Nikon FM 2 with a lens I cannot remember for these photographs.