Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Instead of lit lighters, we had flashlights

My dear Lighter Gray Friend, or MLGF -- as I call him affectionately, Jim "Suldog" Sullivan, has had a reminiscent moment on his blog. More often than not, his whole LIFE is one huge reminiscent moment, as entertaining as can be and many times a hoot to read about. On this occasion, he told us of the many, MANY concerts he has attended. He's got a whopper of a list, so go check it out.

He reminded me of my concert moments. I had the pleasure to attend two, and neither were of my preferred genre, which is basically alternative rock. But I had interesting times at both events, so I'll relate the instances here.

First up:

Smokey Robinson. I had the pleasure to see him at the I.C. Light Amphitheatre, which changed to the Chevrolet Amphitheatre and is now known as the Trib Total Media Amphitheatre. So, as you can see, this concert venue has been named for beer, cars and papers. Insert your own drunken, pot-smoking, high-speed chase jokes here if you wish.

Now, I know Smokey Robinson. I think everyone has heard of his name. But if you sat me down right now to name one of his songs, I probably couldn't do it. Yet he had hits such as "The Way You Do The Things You Do," and "My Girl." Yes, I looked up those songs on all-powerful Wiki (along with all photos for this post). As I said, I know of the man, heard his music enough that if those two songs played I could sing them word-for-word just because of how overplayed they were on the radio, but otherwise I would struggle to tell you who sang those songs, and vice-versa.

So, why did I go see him in concert? Because, it was free.

I guess to fill up seats for a full venue, the concert arrangers made a deal with large local Pittsburgh corporations to give their employees free tickets. One corporation was the Edgar Thomson steel mill in North Braddock, one of the last working steel mills in Pittsburgh (still operational today) Anyway, during the time of the Smokey Robinson tickets, my father still worked at the steel mill. Every the opportunist, he took three tickets and invited me along.

It was a dark and stormy concert. Actually, I'm not joking. It rained right before the concert was scheduled to start. The concert stage and those ticket buyers, yes, who actually BOUGHT tickets, had their areas covered from the rain. All those freebie walk-ins had to grab a wet folding chair from the back of the venue and set them up in ragged rows to watch the concert.

Let's just say, it wasn't a bad affair. His voice still had its musical strength. The only beef I had was that he wanted audience participation. And we sang like angels. I'm not joking. During the song, "My Girl," Smokey had different sections of the audience do the three-piece "My Girl" bit, which goes:

my girl...
my girl...
my girl...
talking 'bout myyyyy giirlll...

And as we belted out the tune, Smokey threw an amazed glance back at his band and chorus girls. He had us do it several more times, just those lines, until he stopped the music and declared Pittsburgh people had great singing voices.

Now, the reason I had the beef was because I like going to a concert to HEAR the singer do their own songs. I don't want to hear the audience members sing the songs for them, especially when it's nearly every song he does. Sort of casts a dark and stormy cloud over the affair when a person pays for the tickets....

um... yeah... right...

Anyhow, we left halfway through the concert. The weatherpeople had predicted more storms a'coming, and we wanted to hit the night road home.

The next concert I went to see featured this famous singer.

George Clinton. The concert was held at the Star Lake Amphitheatre... er, I mean the Coca-Cola Star Lake Amphitheatre.. um, no it's called the Post Gazette Pavilion... uh, scratch that. It's now (for only now) called the First Niagra Pavilion.

So we went to see George Clinton at a starry lake, soda pop, newspaper, waterfall concert venue. Oh, I just hate these corporate names for concert places, ball parks and football stadiums. The only time I'm fine with "corporate-sponsored" buildings is when that corporation BUILDS the place. When the stadium/amphitheatre changes names multiple times due to the highest builder, it gets more confusing than a drunk person in the middle of a mosh pit. He just doesn't know where it's safe to throw up at.

Anyway, I've digressed. I've seen Mr. "Flashlight" George Clinton at a rhythm and blues concert, which means it was an all-day event with about 4 or 5 bands playing. This concert venue is located about 20 miles from Pittsburgh, in a very isolated bit of bowl-shaped land, which means the pot fumes could collect along the sloped grassy sides and a strong wind would blow the smell over the people in their seats.

I had a great time. Again, the tickets were free, through legit reasons, and they were club seats so we sat near the front in our little box section drinking wine coolers all night. George Clinton came on stage and threw a-hell of a performance.

And that was it. Two concerts. Two singers. And one long post.


  1. Thanks for the many kind words and the linky-love, MDGF. Hey, you're one up on me, insofar as people you've seen that I'd like to have seen. Clinton has always fascinated me.

  2. The Tracks of My Tears. Enough said.

  3. Great stories. I agree with you about having the audience sing, which is one reason I like CDs better than a live album most of the time. It may be manufactured "clean" recordings, but at least I can hear the artist rather than his fans. Nice post, and thanks to Suldog for inspiring you to put it up.

  4. You picked a couple of winners there, Michelle! Classic!

  5. Morning Michelle. Have been keeping up with all your adventures. Great post,as usual. Concert memories are rambling around inside all our heads. Enjoy the ride.
    Coach O

  6. oh i am so glad i'm not the only one with limited concert experience.

  7. Good ones, Michelle. I'm still crying into that box of Kleenex about Jim, and so glad you're finding time to write despite the Demands of the Despotic Overlord Jac. I've been neglectful of my own writing lately; thanks as always for the inspiration.
    Love, love.


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