Round V - My Current Adventures As A San Francisco Rock Journalist
In this issue:
Concert reviews of:
JOHN WAITE / PETER FRAMPTON / JOURNEY
at Shoreline Amphitheater !!
The Delphines (Kathy Valentine of The GO-GOs other band) at The Pound and a review of their new CD "Cosmic Speed"!!
THE GO-GOs at The Warfield!!
And a few more (just a few this time) anecdotes) about my "Almost Famousness"!!
Greetings, my loyal San Francisco Herald readers! This month I will make a grand attempt to keep the journal of my escapades down to a happy minimum, in order to a) appease the rest of the SF Herald staff (Hi Harris!) and the illustrious publisher of this little newsrag, Gene Mahoney and b) because Im leavin on a jet plane to NY in less than 24 hours to celebrate my birthday on Aug. 27 (no, I will not tell you which one!) and do a gig at The Bitter End on Sept. 3 and some other cool stuff and I need to hurry up and get the hell outta here!! And after all the space Ive been taking up lately, I think we all could use a little" break" in the action, huh?? Im sure Ill have a few East coast adventures to report next time. So without further ado
Reverse Order, Please:
" Save The Best For Last!"
JOHN WAITE/PETER FRAMPTON/JOURNEY
Live at Shoreline Amphitheater, Mt. View on Aug. 10
Reunited combo platters of the big bands from the 70s and 80s seem to be the "re-newed order of the day" this millennium, and somehow, the SF Herald has managed to get its collective arms around the whole genre. Between Berlin and Bad Company (two of last months highlights) the opportunities to re-visit our collective youth appear endless and this issues offerings prove no exception. August 10 was a perfect example of the best and well, not-so-best of this type of "re-fried entertainment". The venue being Shoreline Amphitheater on a Friday night, I was certain we were going to miss the 6:30 pm start time and former lead singer of one of my personal favorite bands of the late 70s/early 80s, The Babys. But lo and behold, we were on time, which could not be said for a majority of the crowd, who were not in attendance for a stand- out opening set by John Waite. Without any fanfare or pretense, looking ultra-hip and seemingly ageless with his trademark auburn hair grown out long, cool shades and a perfect English rock star uniform of black midi-coat, black slacks, white shirt, and boots, John Waite and his very tight, rockin band delivered killer versions of mostly Babys classics like, "Isnt It Time", "Change", "Back On My Feet Again" and my favorite, "Head First" with that crunchy guitar hook. Id forgotten how great these songs were and still sounded and how many hits they had! Of course, a John Waite set would not be complete without his solo hit, "Missing You", written by my friend in Nashville, Chas Sanford, which has now reached number one three times, by John Waite Tina Turner and country duo Brooks and Dunn (why?!), respectively. God knows old Chas has made some mad cash Id settle for one hit!! But it is a great song God bless Chas! And Ill always be partial to the JW version. Hell, he could sing the phone book and Id buy it, with that instantly recognizable, half singing/half talking style he has, although I wasnt crazy about a new song, "Fly" he did off his upcoming album, which was pretty mundane. He brought out a short, stocky light curly haired guitar player on the last song which I was shocked to discover was none other than former Bad English and then and now Journey guitar player, Neal Schon (who time had not treated quite as well. Sorry, Neal). Surprisingly, John Waite completely omitted selections from his 2nd band from the late 80s, Bad English, which yielded the Diane "I write the songs that make me sing all the way to the bank" Warren penned top ten hit "When I See You Smile". I thought maybe it was because his former mate from both bands, Jonathan Cain was now back in Journey on this same bill and there was some weird conflict of interest, (Im always looking for dirt!) but my buddy from this touring band, Kentucky bred bass player, Mark Meadows -who recently toured with one of my long time songwriting partners, Long Island (Gene Mahoney country!) guitar player Joey Sykes in rocker Meredith "Bitch" Brooks band, said, no, they have played that song this tour, just not today. Mark greeted us after the set, (which ended much too soon for my taste) and then proceded to hook up with this very, uh, animated chick with very short shorts and big hair who had been seated next to us. She had asked several of us girls around her to borrow lip gloss (preparing, I guess) and kept touching my friend Andres leg during the set (so he said). Go Mark! (And go, Andres!)
The amphitheater was beginning to fill up with mullets and bad perms as we waited with anticipation for guitar legend and former 70s poster pin-up boy Peter Frampton. In 98, when I lived in Nashville, I worked at a travel agency called Entertainment Travel that did his itinerary. One day he came in and complimented me on my black suede, thigh-high, coin-studded boots! And when I was 16, I dated a waiter at my first restaurant hostess job at the Boars Head in Daly City who looked exactly like Peter Frampton in the day! I got so mad at him when he cut off that curly, blond perm! And Im still a fan! But whether or not you were a fan of Peter Framptons music (or his hair) back in the day, there was not a soul present that did not get caught up in the spirit of infectious joy that descended upon the amphitheater as soon as Peter Frampton and his band of seasoned old-timers hit the stage. Looking like a skinny, balding Lee Marvin with short gray hair and a moustache, Frampton came alive with such enthusiasm, passion and humor (pretending to throw back his now non-existent hair and making reference to having a "flashback") it was as if no time had elapsed at all! His uncommonly unique tenor voice sounded exactly the same, and both his acoustic and electric guitar playing had certainly not mellowed with age. After perfect versions of great songs like"By Your Side", some tasty, "bluegrassy" instrumental acoustic stuff and a couple instrumental tunes by the band that demonstrated some serious jazz chops, the mostly late 30s-40s audience of die-hard fans were primed and ready for the Peter Frampton they came to hear. And he did not disappoint. As soon as he played the first four notes of "Do You Feel Like We Do", the crowd was on their feet, singing the entire song, playing air instruments and having a ball! And so was Peter, grinning and looking like a kid in an older man suit, as he gleefully sang through his famous "talk box" and then went straight into "Show Me The Way". The whole joint was jumpin, man! Even some of the roadies and stage hands were dancing arm in arm, doing a rock n roll ho-down! Priceless! With generosity of substance and spirit, Peter Frampton left that stage and us feeling like he had, indeed, showed us the way
Im not going to write much about Journeys set, even though, much to my illustrious publishers dismay, I was a fan of theirs back in the day. (Not Gene he hates most classic rock!) Even though this combination of new and original band members sounded great and played a zillion of their classic hits like "Lights" and "Anyway You Want It" , the fact that their new lead singer, Steve Augeri,( who was discovered playing in a Journey cover band) looks and sounds so much like original singer Steve Perry, to the extent that one might be led to believe cloning had been approved in the U.S., and has no sense of humor about it all, just left me cold. In fact, it kinda gave me the creeps. The whole band just seemed to be posturing, and even though the crowd was on their feet the whole time, I felt none of the pure, infectious joy from either that I witnessed during Framptons set. I wondered if they even knew it was a different guy! Finally, before what Im sure were 9 encores, we just had to get the hell outta there!!
Another (sigh) "Almost Famous" anecdote
Back in 1989 when I was living in LA, I had a friend named Brian White who was a lighting designer on the Bad English tour, (John Waite, Neal Schon, Dean Castronovo, Jonathan Cain and some bass player) during their short-lived heyday. He was fan of my music (actually, I think he just wanted to get into my, uh, good graces) and gave my tape to Jonathan Cain and called me from the road and said, "Kim, ya gotta come out to one of our shows and meet Jonathan. He totally digs your songs, big time! Ill introduce you!" So I schlepped out to NY during Xmas time, hopped on a train to New Haven, CT, and just "happened to be in town and thought Id come to the show!!" True to his word, Brian brought me backstage and introduced me to Jonathan Cain, who dragged me over to a corner and started raving about my tape. "I absolutely love "The Hardest Part", it is such a great song, the whole tape is awesome! Listen, Im going to be starting a production company when we finish this tour and I am looking for promising singer/songwriters and I want to sign you! Actually, Id like to write with you and Neal (Schon). Hey, lets go out for a beer I want to introduce you ." So we went out and talked shop, and I made fun of Neal hitting on all the girls and we had a blast! The whole vibe was respectful and funny and "above-board", they both said they would contact me as soon as the tour was over. It was so totally COOL until later that night my "friend" Brian confessed that he was "in love with me" and totally tried to hit on me! It was awful! He acted crushed! I didnt lead him on! I felt so bad!! But not as bad as I felt when it was months later and I NEVER HEARD FROM ANY OF THEM EVER AGAIN!!! I even tried to contact Jonathan Cain at Left Bank Management and left several messages, but no response!! What the hell?? And I found out my "friend" Brian had been living with his girlfriend the whole time!!!
Sometimes life just SUCKS ##
"Here a chick, there a chick, everywhere a chick, chick! Grrrrl power with The Delphines"!!!
Live at The Pound, SF, Aug. 9 and a review of their new CD, "Cosmic Speed" on Conspiracy Records
Back in our July issue, we interviewed bass player Kathy Valentine from The Go-Gos and she told us about her "other band" in which she plays lead guitar, The Delphines, which she described as "Glitter blues: kinda Blondie meets Cream meets Suzi Quatro, like ZZ Top and Jimmie Vaughn." When my illustrious publisher, Gene Mahoney, heard they were going to be in town, we just had to see for ourselves. Before the show, which was at this little dive club out in the middle of some industrial part of Potrero Hill, we ran into Kathy and found out she had never received a copy of the issue of the SF Herald with her interview! She took one and went backstage and then came back with the lead singer/bass player of The Delphines and asked for another one and was pointing out parts of the interview to her right next to us at the bar! Gene got the biggest kick out of this, it was cute. The band finally went on around 11pm hardly anyone was there, sad to report - and even though we enjoyed them, there was nothing remotely "bluesy" about their music, to my ears, anyway, even though Kathy Valentine is an excellent guitar player. (It came through a lot more on the CD, but more on that later.) It was really more of a power pop/punk girl trio, reminiscent of The B-52s, Johnette Napotalano from Concrete Blond and Joan Jett with yep, Go-Go-esque harmonies. The songs were catchy and the band played them enthusiastically and quite well, but some of the musical hooks were very derivative. Gene and I both heard parts that sounded suspiciously like "Ballroom Blitz" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit". The lead singer/bass player, Dominique Davalos (great name!) is very pretty in a "rebel rock chick" kinda way and is a charismatic front person, Kathy looked pretty as last time and played a mean lead guitar, and the drummer was very solid. My favorite song was an Ike & Tina Turner cover (!), a sexy song called "I Idolize You". Go grrrls!
My experience with The Delphines new CD "Cosmic Speed" which I admit I just received yesterday, has been a much more musically gratifying experience. Ive listened to it twice and I really like it! It is extremely well produced, and oddly, the hooks dont sound derivative at all! Once again, its just a much more polished and professional example of the difference between live and studio. and The bluesy Texas guitar thang is much more obvious, and there are some really stand-out songs. In addition to the afore-mentioned "I Idolize You", there is the beautiful "Dont Pass Me By" and some fun, rockin tunes like the "lusting after a musician on stage" (of course, I cant relate, never been there) "Chick" and the "been-there/done that" sentiment of "Pitiful Pair"( uh huh, uh huh! )I am looking forward to repeated listens to this CD. Special treat: inside the CD cover is a commentary after each of the songs by Kathy Valentine and Dominique Davalos that is very similar to the interview with Kathy where I asked her to discuss the songs on the new Go-Gos CD "God Bless The Go-Gos". Once again, I am a rock journalist and I rule! (uh, yeah, whatever)Order "Cosmic Speed" at www.conspiracymusic.com!!! Its cool!
"God Bless The Go-Gos" BUY THIS CD NOW!!!
The Go-Gos - live at the Warfield, Aug.21
Go. Right now. Get off your ass and get it down to the nearest place that sells CDs and buy it!!!! Did no one read my review of "God Bless The Go-Gos" in the July issue??? It is THE BEST RECORD OF THE DECADE!!! Okay now on to the review of the first time Id seen them live since 1981 at The Old Waldorf when I was, well, a lot younger. Lets face it, The Go-Gos were never reknown as a great live band. They were, and continue to be a great, fun band. It would be difficult, even if you were having a bad night or had a headache or breaking up with someone, or whatever, not to still have a good time at a Go-Gos show . The almost capacity crowd of 30/40 somethings waited with great anticipation for their princesses of pop to show them how its done. A recorded female voice who announced herself as God introduced the girls (so theyre 40-something, theyre still "girls" to me, hey, Im a girl, too!) First things first: the mix was AWFUL. It was really muddy, all the instruments sounded bad, except for Gina Schocks drums, which were okay, not great, and the background vocals were practically non-existent, which was a travesty. Lead singer Belinda Carlisle, looking not "zero size", but leaner than in her Go-Gos heyday, wearing a silver lame midi skirt, a black sweater, and heels that she took off immediately, sounded better than I had ever heard her live, probably because she was so buried in the messy mix! They opened with "Head Over Heels" and delivered a high energy set that was a mixture of their giant hits like "We Got The Beat", Vacation", and "Our Lips Are Sealed" and album cuts that were cool, like "This Town" off their debut album "Beauty and the Beat, and a good dose off their fabulous new CD "God Bless The Go-Gos" (Buy it now!!!) Unfortunately, you would never know how great this new CD is from this show, and even though the crowd seemed to be having a ball and sang along to all the old songs, I only noticed three people in the whole damn place who seemed to be familiar with the new songs, even the single, "Unforgiven". Whats wrong with you people?? There are some killer new songs, like "Stuck In My Car" and "Automatic Rainy Day", check em out!! You still love your girls, go buy their CD!! The girls looked like they were having fun, Jane Wieldin dressed like a cute, little new wave priest and everyone prancing around and jumping up and down. Yeah, there were a few mistakes here and there, but who cared? Thats not why the fans came. They came have a good time! In spite of the security people who thought they were cops and popped balloons and tried to stop us!
Backstage, we got to say hello to tour manager Jim "You dont mess around with Jim" Silva, who we mentioned in Kathy Valentines interview, and Gene gave a copy of that issue to his girlfriend, Jane Wieldin, who obviously had not been informed of this development in her personal life that we had so carefully documented. Unfortunately, we only got to speak very briefly to our friend Kathy ( who you think might have been a tad friendlier, since we had given she and her other band so much attention!). Oh well. Most entertaining was an adorable, young Japanese pop band who barely spoke English and came all the way to America to see The Go-Gos! They brought all this stuff with them to show anyone who would pay attention to them, including us. Jane and Charlotte Caffey thought they were so cute and were making a big fuss over them. Unlike the fuss they werent making over us. But it was late and I was tired and it had been a long night. And so we got the hell outta there, too God Bless The Go-Gos. Buy it...
Time to hop on that plane, boys n girls. The Big Apple awaits! Catch ya next month
To Read More by Kim, go here now.