|July 14, 1996|
I went to my first concert this past week... sort of. When I was ten I went to some concert for Vietnam veterans at the arena formerly know as the Brendan Byrne Arena. I saw Ben E. King, Jay Black from Jay and the Americans, and some guy from Blood, Sweat, and Tears. It was pretty good and all, but I still never really counted it as a real concert. It was a charity show for a good cause, but not a concert. However the one I just recently attended, I definitely consider a real concert... sort of. It was the Can't Stop Rockin' Tour `96 at the Garden State Arts Center, and it featured Peter Frampton, REO Speedwagon, and Foreigner. It wasn't exactly Lollapalooza or anything, since the average age of the performers was well in the forties, but it still rocked, I had a great time, and I'm going to write my Whack about it. Instead of Can't Stop Rockin', perhaps a more apropos name would have been the Mid-Life Crisis Tour `96. The general atmosphere of the show was just one big mid-life crisis. The crowd was generally made up of fifty-year women with salon tans wearing leather, and fat, balding men wearing ripped jeans and Budweiser T-shirts. My brother and I were among the five people there who weren't alive when the original Frampton Comes Alive album was released. Besides the crowd, the bands were also obviously in the middle of their mid-life crisis's. Peter Frampton, REO Speedwagon, and Foreigner were all at their primes well over a decade ago, they all slipped into relative obscurity as they grew old, and they all got back the fever and released a new album within the past year. It's great seeing them up there, and you can really tell they love what they're doing, but watching them perform is kind of like watching my father play tennis. Sure they're good, and they try really hard, but someone is just going to get hurt. Anyhow since we had lawn seats, we got there early. In fact we were the second and third people there. The first person was some guy with a graying goatee, wearing a leather jacket in brutal humidity, who was pacing back and forth listening to his walk-man, and singing out loud. The reason we got there so early was that my brother was judging by his last two concerts at the Arts Center, Van Halen and Boys II Men. But I don't think it's too far fetched to expect Peter Frampton, REO Speedwagon, and Foreigner to attract as big of a crowd as Van Halen or Boys II Men. However our waiting did pay off, as we were first on line, and were able to set down our blanket right at the border of the grass and the stadium seats. We were still in the open air, although, and we did get rained on a bit. The concert opened with Peter Frampton. In his career, Frampton had two records, the legendary Frampton Comes Alive, and the recent not-so-legendary Frampton Comes Alive II. And there are maybe two really famous Peter Frampton songs: Baby I Love Your Way, and Show Me the Way. So the majority of his set, which didn't include Show Me the Way, was familiar only to the die-hard Framptonite. And frankly, many of those songs where he uses the mouth harp, or whatever that thing is, sounded downright scary. But of course he came back for an encore and performed Show Me the Way, and everybody was left satisfied. Next on stage was REO Speedwagon. Personally, I thought REO Speedwagon had the best performance of the night. They were really into the whole thing. Their hard songs were rocking, and their soft songs were steady. They did a great version of Take It on the Run, the songs they played from their new album were surprisingly good, and I was definitely touched during Keep On Loving You, and Can't Fight This Feeling. After their set, everybody was thoroughly satisfied, and an encore was not necessary. The last band to perform was Foreigner. A funny thing about Foreigner is that before the concert when we were waiting for the gates to open, we could hear them doing a sound check, and the lead singer had a distinct English accent. However when showtime came, the accent surprisingly disappeared. Foreigner was supposed to be the main attraction of the show, but I think by the time they got on stage, a lot of people were already rocked out. They did do great versions of Head Games, Double Vision, Cold as Ice, and Feels Like the First Time, but then they slipped into some songs off their new album, and they ended with a twenty-five minute version of Juke Box Hero, which I nearly fell asleep during. Although most of the crowd was on their way out the door, they still came back to do a three song obligated encore of Dirty White Boy, I Want to Know What Love Is, and of course Hot Blooded. They were really good, but if they were on first or second, they might have appeared even better. When the show was over, I made sure I bought a bootleg T-shirt, which was literally still wet from paint. It was fifteen dollars cheaper than the ones they were selling inside, but I'm going to be very weary about washing it. Anyway, I took my shirt and went home, and when I went to bed that night, I still had the sounds of middle-age rock stars ringing in my head. Well the show is over for this Whack, so to conclude for this week, aging women and leather don't mix; my father could take Peter Frampton in a set of tennis; and I want tickets to see Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, and Soundgarden do their Can't Stop Rocking tour twenty years from now.
For this week's special feature, we have Feff's top ten favorite songs performed at the concert:
10. Baby I Love Your Way -Peter Frampton 9. I Want to Know What Love Is -Foreigner 8. After Tonight -REO Speedwagon 7. Cold As Ice -Foreigner 6. Keep on Loving You -REO Speedwagon 5. Double Vision -Foreigner 4. Hot Blooded -Foreigner 3. Take It On the Run -REO Speedwagon 2. Show Me the Way -Peter Frampton 1. Can't Fight This Feeling -REO Speedwagon