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Concerts: Opening Acts


marvin

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Over the last 30 years or so, I have had a chance to attend many concerts

- just as I'm sure many of you have. So I started thinking about all the shows that I had seen, and some of the outstanding opening acts who in some cases were not the main attraction for me. Is there a tougher job than being an opening act? You've basically got about 1/2 an hour to win over an audience that for the most part is not there to see you. Here's a list of some of the opening acts (in no order) that made me sit up and take notice:

1. Luba opening for Paul Young at the Montreal Forum (1987):

I'm sure that most of you are familiar with Paul Young, but I'd guess that no one, other than the Canadians on this site, know anything about Luba. She is a Montreal singer, who had a few hit records in Canada in the 1980's and early 1990's. On this night, she had no trouble winning over her hometown crowd with her brand of solid commercial pop/rock/. After her incredible performance, I actually felt let down by Young.

2. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band opening for Los Lobos at the Montreal Spectrum (1990):

The DDBB are from New Orleans and their music is an uplifting blend of jazz and big band - with no vocals. I had no idea who they were, but in

this small club setting, gosh did they make you want to get up and dance.

3. The Lavender Hill Mob opening for Electric Light Orchestra at the Montreal Forum (1977):

The LHB were a Montreal band that lasted a couple of years at best. They played pop music that combined catchy melodies with great laying, and their one self-titled album with its single "Dream Away" are among my favourites.

On this night ELO came with all the fanfare and the spaceship, but the LHM were the ones who were on everyone's lips at the end of the evening.

4. Lori Carson opening for Joe Jackson at the Montreal Spectrum (1990):

Again an artist that was totally unfamiliar to me. She was originally with the Golden Palaminos. Carson walked on stage with an acoustic guitar, and was accompanied by an accordionist. I was so impressed with her brand of stylish folk, the next day I went out and bought her disc. Fourteen years later, I'm still listening to that disc.

5. the Blue Shadows opening for the Band at the Montreal Spectrum (1993):

Being a huge fan of the Band (even post Richar Manuel and Robbie Robertson) and having never seen them live, I was anxious for the opening act to hurry up, do their stuff, and get the main attraction on the stage. The Blue Shadows were a combination of Stray Cats styled rockabilly with a dose of country. Featuring Billy Cowsill (of the 1960's family band the Cowsills) on lead vocals, their performance was spirited and their songs extremely catchy.

6. the Everly Brothers opening for Tony Orlando & Dawn at Place des Arts, Montreal (1971):

I think my dad, my sister and I were the only ones in the audience who were there to see the Everly's - or so it seemed. This was the

foundation of everything I had ever learned about harmony singing. I was in heaven.

7. the Carpenters opening for Johnny Cash at CNE Stadium in Ontario (1971):

Another time when my sister and I were there specifically to see the opening act. I fully expected Karen to be great on drums and vocals and Richard to be great on keyboards. What I didn't expect was the guitarist and bassist to be as exceptional as they were. If I only knew their names!

8. Jimmy Buffet opening for the Eagles at the Montreal Forum (January 1977):

Jimmy had just hit the charts with

"Margaritaville" but he was still an unknown to me. I was truly impressed with his humor, his whimsical tales, and his laid-back approach. He laid a perfect opening for the Eagles.

9. the Powder Blues Band opening for Bob Seger at the Montreal Forum (1980):

The PBB were a fairly popular Canadian act in the 1980's. Bluesy-rock with some energetic singing and playing, throw a horn section into the mix and what else could you ask for? They had the pro-Seger crowd yelling for more.

10. Zachary Richard opening for Little Feat at the Metropolis Club, Montreal (1997):

Although I was there primarily to see Little Feat, I was looking forward to seeing Zachary Richard because I'm a sucker for New Orlean music. There are many Louisiana natives who have their roots in Quebec, Richard is one of them and has performed there many times. So even though Little Feat was the headlining act, the majority of the people were there to see Richard - and he gave them everything and more.

11. Andy Gibb opening for April Wine at Place des Nations, Montreal (1976):

A complete mismatch of opening and headlining acts, and it showed. April Wine, a hard-rocking band playing in their hometown, and Andy Gibb, a new artist who was just starting to hit the airwaves with "I Just Want to Be Your Everything." Gibb was literally booed off the stage, but it was not due to any poor performance on his part. He showed a great stage presence and his songs, even though they were not for this crowd, were a strong blend of pop and r&b. After his set it was obvious to me that a 4th talented Gibb brother had surfaced.

12. Bryan Adams opening for Foreigner at the Montreal Forum (1982):

This was still a couple of years before Bryan would hit it big. A friend at work told me about Adams and said that he was going to be "huge." A few days earlier, Adams had played the ballroom at McGill University for about 150 people, to rave reviews. Two days later he played the Montreal Forum for 15,000+ fans and a new Canadian rock star was born.

So now tell me about your concert openers?

Marvin

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1. John Cougar (as he was billed then) opening for Heart (1982) He had just broke with "Jack and Diane"

2. Hall and Oates opening for ELO (1981)

Although they had had a few hits by then , they were about to break wide open the following year.

After they left the stage everyone was talking about how great they were.(and this was at The Chicago Stadium)

3.Billy Squier opening for Foreigner (1981)

"The Stroke" had just hit and the man just rocked! the place went nuts for him.

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  • 4 weeks later...

(1)At this one Beach Boys concert, there second-billed band was some unknown one called Eureka, which was fair. But the opening act was Bob Seger

(2)On both the Kiss concerts I saw in the 70s, Seger was the second-billed act on one show(right after the horrible Point Blank). On the other show, Cheap Trick opened for them.

(3)Quarterflash opening for Elton John.

(4)Styx opening for BTO

(5)Robert Palmer opening for Heart.

(6)Eagles being a second-bill behind the Doobies(actually blew the Doobies away).

(7)Derringer opening for Led Zeppelin.

(8)George Thorogood and J.Geils opening for the Stones.

(9)The Cars opening for Styx.

(10)Journey opening for Emerson Lake and Palmer.

(11)A new year's eve bill of Sammy Hagar, Derringer and The Runaways.

(12)The Escape from New York tour.......Ramones/

Deborah Harry/Tom Tom Club.....

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So now tell me about your concert openers?

Marvin

A FEW LIFE-CHANGING OPENERS...

HAMELL ON TRIAL W/ WILCO @ MERCURY LOUNGE, NYC--WILCO HAD JUST RELEASED MY FAVE LP OF 1996, "BEING THERE"...IT DIDN'T MATTER, ED (HAMELL ON TRIAL) BLEW MY MIND WITH ONE OF THE MOST INTENSE PERFORMANCES EVER... DEFINITELY THE GREATEST ONE-MAN ROCK AND ROLL SHOW I'D EVER SEEN... SINCE THEN I'VE SEEN HIM DOZENS OF TIMES....ALWAYS AMAZING....

REPLACEMENTS W/ ELVIS COSTELLO--MARYLAND CIRCA 1990.. LAST REPLACEMENTS TOUR (AND VERY CLOSE TO THEIR LAST GIG) THEY DID AN INSANE 45-MINUTE BEST-OF SET THAT DEFIED THEIR LEGACY AS DRUNKEN MISFITS WHO WERE USUALLY A SLOPPY MESS... ELVIS'S "MIGHTY LIKE A ROSE" TOUR SET, IS HARDLY A MEMORY...

POLICE@ CARRIER DOME/SCREEN TEST @ THE JAB--SYRACUSE 1982: SAME NIGHT, SAW THE COPS IN THE DOME FOR THE SYNCHRONICITY TOUR.... ABSOLUTELY FORGETTABLE MESS... SCREEN TEST WERE PLAYING DOWN THE STREET AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY CLUB CALLED THE JAB, OUR POLICE TICKET STUBS GOT US IN FOR 1/2 PRICE--MY 1ST "CLUB" EXPERIENCE... SCREEN TEST WERE 3/4'S OF THE FLASHCUBES AND WERE AT THEIR PEAK IN '82. AN AMAZING NIGHT THAT CLEARLY ESTABLISHED THE POWER OF A CLUB PERFORMANCE VS. AN ARENA SHOW.... TOMMY ALLEN ON DRUMS

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Great thread Marvin!

1) The Caulfields opening up for Del Amitri - 1990? at the Club Soda in Montreal. A totally unknown band that last one or two albums. they were smokin'!

2) Christopher Cross opening for The Beach Boys (1990?)- Montreal Forum - This guy was fabulous, though not great on the showmanship. His voice was incredible and his guitar playing was surprising.

3) Loverboy opening up for April Wine 1984? Montreal Forum - (Marvin you were there too!) Loverboy was just starting to get airplay....they made April Wine give a spectacular show because Loverboy kicked the crap out of the audience giving them watts of entertainment.

4) Gowan opening up for STYX. 1998? Molson Centre Montreal- Gowan played to the crowd with nothing but a piano. Soon there after he joined Styx, replacing the boorish Dennis D. Young.

5) Walter Rossi opening up for Nanette Workman - Port of Montreal theatre - 1981? Walter was Nanette's guitar player....a guitar God here in Montreal, Walter played an awesome set, then joining Nanette on stage. Nanette, a french music artist is a cajun girl who came up here to Montreal and learnt how to speak french phonetically for her records.

she is still doing her thang and knocking out audiences. A Janis Joplin type.

Streetheart opening up for Max Webster - Cowansville local bar 1980? Two Canadian giants who had few massive radio hits, but became huge showcase bands. A great double bill. thnaks to my brother, I managed to get in at 16.

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  • 6 months later...

Man, I've got to move to Montreal! Looking at Marvin and Andy's lists, they've had the opportunities to see some of the most amazing shows over the years. Growing up in small town Alberta, big names to us were Trooper, Doug and the Slugs, Roger Whittaker, Headpins, Honeymoon Suite, Burton Cummings, April Wine, Powder Blues Band, etc., Strangely, one of the concerts I went to that I had no expectations for was Beatlemania. I was absolutely transfixed - you'd swear I'd been to see George, Paul, John and Ringo live! More amazed than I ever have been before or since by anyone.

At least in Edmonton we had better music - the Who, U2 (probably the best concert I've seen since Beatlemania), Paul Simon, Trooper (several more times), Roch Voisin (also several more times), Dixie Chicks, Melissa Etheridge, etc.

Staying on topic, the best opening act I ever saw was Ashley McIssac for Melissa Etheridge. He was amazing - full of energy, full on rocking celtic music. Fantastic playing - made you get up and dance. The acoustics for Melissa were the worst I've ever heard (Dixie Chicks a very close second), but with Ashley you didn't notice - he was that great. Melissa - the main show - was a letdown to me afterwards.

Close second was Jesse Cooke opening with Bruce Guthro for Amy Sky. Jesse plays flaminco guitar, and BLEW me away with his awesome playing. We went to see Amy (my husband has a crush), and both Bruce and Jesse left me speachless. As I'd already seen Amy before - as the opening act for Roch Voisine - she was what I expected. But, Jesse and Bruce were both main show worthy material - should not have been opening acts. Soon afterwards they became main acts - and rightly so.

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Eye Eye opening up for Honeymoon Suite - 1980-82

Anvil opening up for Helix - 1984-85

Blank.........opening up for RICK NELSON

THE STONE CANYON BAND back in 19 oh geeze, just before his plane crashed Or was it a car.

The blanks mean -I cannot remember the names, I know it was some lady, I had never heard of before, I think she was someone off of the street corner. Lol

Other than that guys, all the rest of the concerts were just plain music or one act performances.

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Speaking of opening acts: I remember going to the Philly Spectrum because Billy Joel had Eric Carmen opening (or so I thought...was I dreaming or do I have a bad memory?) but when I got there they said that Eric Carmen would NOT be there, instead the band that did the instrumental 5th of Bethoven would open. I decided not to buy a ticket and went over to the Phillies game instead (across the street).

My favorites:

LTD stole the show from the Commodores once.

Thin Lizzy rocked as the opening act for Queen back in 1977 at the Phila Civic Center.

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Check this lineup out:

Squeeze

Split Enz

Third World

Duran Duran

It was 1982 at the Mann Music Center in Philly. Squeeze was at peak popularity with "Sweets from a Stranger" just out, the Enz had "Time and Tide" featuring "Six Months on a Leaky Boat," and Duran Duran had just released "Rio" and was about to begin its MTV acension.

I remember an ad for a Sweet/Eric Carmen show at the Tower Theater I wanted to go to, but I was too young at the time. Damn!

Other cool lineups I've seen:

Cheap Trick/Graham Parker and the Rumour

Jethro Tull/Uriah Heep

Tubes/Utopia

--Howard

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hbecstacy - so where are you from?. I grew up in Havertown and went to Msgn. Bonner H.S (first graduating class). I went to the Raspberries/Sweet concert at the Tower. The Razz weren't on very long and although I was a major fan I was a bit disappointed in the sound. I watched two songs by the Sweet and left. The Tower had decent acoustics but something was off that night.

Ted

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