On This Day in History

On this date in history, 8/16/1981, ZZ Top and Loverboy teamed up for a show at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. I’m not sure who thought this was a good combination, but it certainly brought in a diverse crowd.

This show took place during my party years, so I took the opportunity to sit through Loverboy’s set and elevate my happiness level for ZZ Top’s performance. In all fairness to Loverboy, they had a great sound mix and plenty of support from the young ladies who turned out in their best ’80’s fashions to witness the Canadian rockers.

Looking back, I’m not sure who all was with me at this show, but I know I wasn’t the only one sitting out the first half. I do remember having a conversation with some girls in the row behind us who just couldn’t fathom why we weren’t up dancing to the band’s music. Different strokes for different folks, and I was definitely there for the bearded bad boys from Texas. ZZ Top were touring the El Loco album and had begun the shift into a more modern version of their blues sound, a direction that would make them millions a couple of years later with the advent of MTV and their slick videos featuring fancy hot rods and fancier women.

In 1981 they were one of the first bands utilizing a state of the art laser light show, and had already begun incorporating the signature synchronized moves of Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill, the 2 members with matching facial hair magnificence. Drummer Frank Beard was beardless in face only, apparently having Beard as a last name makes one exempt!

As modern as their approach was getting, the boys knew that a substantial part of their fan base expected the raw and dirty blues of their early years, and thankfully there was still plenty of that to go around.

Gibbons effortlessly pulled all kinds of nasty beauty out of his guitars and gave us the “how how how’s” in La Grange just like we have them ingrained in our memories from the countless times we have heard that song throughout the years. Sometimes these odd combinations make for a great concert and this one worked out just fine.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Day in History

alice_cooper_hat_1316601841_crop_550x604n this date in history, 6/29/1980, I saw Alice Cooper at Market Square Arena for the 3rd time in 3 consecutive years. He was touring in support of his album Flush The Fashion, an experiment in punk/new wave sounds and fashion.

I quite enjoyed the music, but wasn’t prepared for the change in Alice’s appearance. His band all wore matching military styled uniforms and Alice himself was sporting a similar outfit with a green beret styled hat and apparently had cut his trademark long black hair off.

He was carrying around a short riding crop which he brandished like a whip, looking like some lunatic drill instructor. During the recording and touring cycle, the Coop hit rock bottom with his alcoholism and nearly died. Indeed, he appeared severely gaunt and haggard (even by Alice Cooper standards), but he still delivered an amazing performance.

A lot of the new wave influence suited his singing style quite well and his young band rs-alice-cooper02-63ea722f-222c-495b-82d1-11ed102b4132were a perfect fit. When he came out for his encore, we all received a happy surprise, as Alice appeared in black leather pants, a torn t-shirt, and his trademark eye makeup and long hair released from the cap it had been hidden under throughout the show.

Alice gleefully asked us if we really thought he was gonna cut it off, knowing he had fooled us all along. He proceeded to do a mini-greatest hits show, complete with boa constrictor and concluded another classic Cooper concert. Billy Squier was the opening act and he was rock solid. Too bad he never worked out as well as a headliner, because he was definitely a good warmup act.

Alice Cooper – Poison



Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

On This Day in History

On this date in history, 4/29/1979, my mind was literally blown out of my skull as I witnessed the mighty Van Halen for the first time! This show took place in my so called “home away from home”, the fabled Market Square Arena, in downtown Indianapolis.
6a00d8341c694153ef00e54f3f004b8834-800wiI was 17 years old at the time of this sensational show, and the impact it had on me was colossal. I had just discovered the band the previous year, along with literally every other guitar player on the planet.
Eddie Van Halen’s playing style was seismic…like an earthquake powerful enough to separate the state of California from the rest of the states. To my delight, he was even better live, careening around the stage with this big, goofy look of pure joy on his face throughout the entire show.
His brother Alex brought the thunder with his massive drum kit, Michael Anthony kept the bass lines simple, but solid as granite. He also provided those sky high, crystal clear harmony vocals on all those infectious choruses.
van-halen-78-039aDavid Lee Roth was the quintessential lead singer sex symbol…strutting and striking all the right poses, telling stories and cracking jokes between songs, leaping off the drum riser in martial arts fearlessness; all while screaming like a banshee and singing those clever lyrics that his replacement, Sammy Hagar, could never match in a million years.
Van Halen II was their current album, and it provided some new classics for their arsenal. The song “Light Up The Sky” was a particular crowd favorite, as the whole band participated in a group drum solo near the song’s conclusion.
Eddie’s long solo spot in the show had everyone’s jaws dropping and eyes bulging as 1vh2we tried to take in all the incredible playing and seemingly endless supply of cool tricks the man was capable of conjuring from his trademark striped Kramer guitars. Oh yes, there was a forgettable opening act, one Robert Fleischman.
Little did I know  at the time  I would see VH 4 more times in the next few years and 2 things remained consistent…Van Halen’s badassery and their opening band’s lameness.
b20705070271556ace5034d1bc94d88cApparently, Van Halen was not concerned with being challenged. That is a minor complaint, because I always got my money’s worth at a Van Halen show. If you never saw them, I truly feel sorry for you!
Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

Van Halen – Dance The Night Away (live 1979)


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On This Day in History


On this date in history, 4/27/1980, I saw Rush and .38 Special at Market Square Arena. This was one of the stranger combinations in terms of musical styles, but it was a fantastic show all the same.

I had just seen Rush a little less than a year and a half prior to this and in that time they had released  Permanent Waves. This album was the one featuring “The Spirit Of Radio” and “Freewill” and began a trend towards shorter songs. There were still a couple of long ones, but they didn’t take up a whole side of the album, so it counts as a pretty major change for the Canadian trio.


All facets of the live show were in full growth mode…better lighting, better sound, more songs to choose from; but the consistency and commitment to excellence remained a hallmark of all the Rush shows I ever attended. Geddy, Alex and Neil were all simply killing it on their respective instruments and playing together as a unit with a razor focus.

$_35The opening set by the talented .38 Special was loaded with their fiery southern rock and full of great songs that are still played on classic rock stations all these years later. On paper it was a weird band to open for Rush, but in the arena it all came down to songs and performance, and both bands delivered plenty of highlights.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

Rush – Exit Stage Left 1980



38 Special Live  1980


On This Day in History


On this date in history, 4/26/1995, I saw exactly one half of Led Zeppelin in concert at Market Square Arena! More specifically, I witnessed Robert Plant and Jimmy Page perform together as Page and Plant, and it was majestic.


They had reunited to do an episode of MTV Unplugged and had released an album of reworked Zeppelin songs with both Western and Arab orchestras, mandolins, banjos, hurdy gurdies, and other exotic percussion instruments to add exciting new flavors and textures to those immortal compositions. The concert I saw featured all of these elements and resulted in a mesmerizing mixture of familiarity and imagination.


Always present was the sound of Plant’s voice and its mate in the form of Page’s iconic guitar tone. Robert has lost some of his range throughout the years, but the character and presence of that unmistakable bluesy wail, coupled with his formidable charisma and swagger as a front man par excellence was simply amazing.


Add Page’s guitar mastery and stage moves that match his singing brother step for step, and the results were like a musical bomb blast. I never got to see Zeppelin, but on this magical night, hearing them breathe new life into “Kashmir”, “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, “The Battle Of Evermore”, and so many others, was a dream come true. One of my most cherished concert memories for certain!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant 1995


Page & Plant Kashmir With Egyptian Orchestra  1995


On This Day in History


On this day in history, 4/22/1999, I was back at Market Square Arena in Indy once again for a Marilyn Manson show.

I had been really excited about the lineup of this one, but by the time of the actual concert it had changed considerably. The original tour lineup was Manson, Hole and Monster Magnet, but Hole (I said butthole…heh heh heh…cheap Beavis & Butthead reference, but I digress) had a dispute with the Manson camp and exited the tour near the beginning of the tour cycle.


I was bummed by that, but figured I’d get a longer set from Monster Magnet and I love that band, so all was still good. Then Monster Magnet left the tour and we got Nashville Pussy.

I had never heard them before, but loved the name and knew it referenced a notorious remark Ted Nugent made on the Double Live Gonzo album. Needless to say, I became a Nashville Pussy fan that night. They had such attitude and played such balls to the wall, AC/DC filtered through a whisky soaked redneck perspective, hard rock, that I nearly forgot all about my disappointment over Hole and Monster Magnet!


The main attraction was Manson, and he was in prime diabolical form that night. He had recently upgraded his guitar player to the supremely bad ass John 5 and the difference was monumental.

The Antichrist Superstar and his band blazed through all the best songs and as always, it was difficult to take one’s eyes off the charismatic Mr. Manson. Sometimes the show you expect isn’t the one you end up with and this one turned disappointment to triumph.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic




Marilyn Manson LIVE Minneapolis, MN, USA – 1999-04-27


On This Day in History


On this date in history I traveled alone to Market Square Arena in downtown Indianapolis to see Yes in concert. The year was 1984, and the version of Yes that I witnessed was the new, digital era lineup of the band that featured Trevor Rabin on guitar. They were touring in support of 90125, which contained their biggest hit, “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”, and was the most successful album of the band’s career. At some point in time, I recall hearing someone mention that a big name band was supposed to have supported Yes at this particular show, but I can’t remember who it was.


906648For whatever reason, there was no opening band, so they ended up showing 2 Bugs Bunny cartoons on a big screen prior to Yes taking the stage! From a psychological viewpoint, this was a genius move…the crowd was in such a great mood after watching these old Looney Tunes classics…perfect mood setter!

Yes opened their set with the instrumental “Cinema” and then moved directly into a stunning a cappella (vocals only) version of the beginning of “Leave It”, moving seamlessly into the full song.

Chris Squire’s bass sound was thunderous and majestic all night, and Jon Anderson’s vocals were ethereal and clear as chiming bells in a cathedral. I would have preferred Steve Howe on guitar, but Rabin was on point both vocally and on all the vintage stuff in addition to his more technological style of playing. I felt that Yes did a pretty solid job of providing both new and old fans of their music a nice cross section of their material. They were one of the premiere bands of the progressive rock genre and they owned the stage that night in 1984.

Yes – I’ve Seen all Good People


Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA The Concert Critic



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