Big Fish in a Small Pond – Summer Concerts

This is going to be a long post. Forgive me, I’ve been a bit behind on posting this and decided to just lump these all together.

Is a bigger venue better when it comes to a concert? I prefer the small places around here, like the Warfield or the Filmore.

This summer we have managed to see four big concerts: John Mayer, Diana Krall, The Police and The Smashing Pumpkins. Two played in arena settings and the other two in smaller clubs.

Guess which performances I enjoyed the most?

The Smashing Pumpkins @ The Filmore 07.16.2007

BossaNova and I caught the second Smashing Pumpkins shows at the Filmore. He was kind enough to get tickets when Farrah and I were in England. Actually, BossaNova is responsible for my best concert experience: The Smashing Pumpkins at The Warfield in support of the Siamese Dream album. BossaNova sums up the concert experience very well on his blog entry.

Here is the set list from that night courtesy of http://www.blamo.org/sp/

Main Set :

  • The Leaving Lament
  • Mama
  • Promise Me
  • With Every Light
  • Blue Skies Bring Tears
  • Tonight Tonight
  • Tarantula
  • Cherub Rock
  • Shame
  • The Aeroplane Flies High
  • Hummer
  • Bullet with Butterfly Wings
  • United States
  • To Sheila
  • Death from Above
  • Thirty-Three
  • Rocket
  • Translucent
  • Starla
  • Doomsday Clock
  • 7 Shades of Black
  • Today

Encore 1 :

  • That’s the Way (My Love Is)
  • Heavy Metal Machine

Encore 2 :

  • Zero
  • Gossamer

The Smashing Pumpkins came on a little after 10 pm, a late start for what I heard was a 3-hour gig! We only lasted through the main set which took us to about 12:15 am.

As BossaNova pointed out the show started slow. But when they started kicking into Tonight Tonight the show turned into something more. It was great to see Billy and Jimmy in action again. The new group seems to click especially when Billy went on his little time of reflection rants – which he did twice during the show.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

The Police @ The Oakland Coliseum 06.13.2007

I have seen Sting perform several times, but I never saw The Police play – until now. Seats opened up one week before the show, and Farrah and I were lucky to score some last minute tickets. The seats were excellent – behind home plate slightly right of the stage.

In such a large setting it ‘s hard to feel any energy from almost any band, and The Police were no exception. After the initial excitement of the opening songs, the show went into a slight lull, then rebounded back again to finish strong. Sting, Andy, and Stewart seemed to be clicking on mostly all cylinders, enjoying themselves and each others company on stage.

Here is the set list courtesy of The Police Tour 2007 blog

  • Message in a Bottle
  • Synchronicity II
  • Don’t Stand So Close to Me
  • Voices in My Head / When the World Is Running Down
  • Spirits in the Material World
  • Driven to Tears
  • Walking on the Moon
  • Truth Hits Everybody
  • Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
  • Wrapped Around Your Finger
  • The Bed’s Too Big Without You
  • De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
  • Invisible Sun
  • Walking in Your Footsteps
  • Can’t Stand Losing You
  • Roxanne
  • King of Pain
  • So Lonely

Encore:

  • Every Breath You Take

Second Encore:

  • Next to You

I’m happy I had the opportunity to see The Police, albeit almost 20 years after their prime.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Diana Krall @ Yoshi’s

I believe the first and last time we saw Diana Krall perform was in the outdoor Mountain Winery venue. She put on a great show under the night sky. So when I saw she was playing at a smaller venue, at Yoshi’s in Oakland, I had to buy tickets.

She had not performed in a while since having her kids. The tickets were for her last set at Yoshi’s. An excellent review of the night’s events can be found here.

What I enjoy most about a Diana Krall show is that she knows how to interact with an audience. She is constantly aware of what is going on, especially in a small place like Yoshi’s. She can be humorous, both while talking to the crowd and while performing. During “a talk with the crowd” people started shouting out song requests – one of which was Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Farrah and my song. No, I didn’t scream this out.) She quickly responded, “I don’t have the range for that song.” Then during her solo in the following song, she proceeded to play a few measures of, you guessed it, Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Diana Krall at Yoshi’s. What more can you ask?

Rating: **** (out of 5)

John Mayer @ The HP Pavilion 06.05.2007

I have never seen John Mayer perform live. I have often heard he puts on a good show, but I wasn’t trying to set my expectations too high. I’ve seen a few shows at the HP Pavilion. Most have my experiences have been fair at best. The two U2 shows I recall seeing there were great experiences because of the seat location that offered both a great view and great sound. For John Mayer, we were sitting in section 128, which is on the right side of the stage, and good seats. Though the seats were not bad, they don’t allow you to have the best audio experience.

We arrived at the Pavilion as Ben Folds was performing the opening set. His band’s performance was erratically energetic, trying to keep the crowd interested. He tried to unsuccessfully to interact with the crowd through some stories and small talk. This seemed successful on a small level. He did score points with some songs, a cover of a Dr. Dre song and a cover of The Postal Service’s Such Great Heights. Overall, an uneven performance for me.

After a half hour wait, John Mayer and his band hit the stage. The crowd rose to their feet as the band took the stage.

His set list, according to his web site, was:

  • Belief
  • No Such Thing
  • Good Love is On the Way
  • Gravity
  • Bigger Than My Body
  • Dreaming With A Broken Heart
  • Vultures
  • I Don’t Need No Doctor
  • Wheel
  • Why Georgia
  • Waiting on the World to Change

— encore —

  • Slow Dancing (acoustic)
  • 83 (acoustic)
  • Who Did You Think I Was (acoustic)
  • I’m Gonna Find Another You

John brought energy to the stage which encouraged the crowd to its feet, in particular through his more familiar songs. But the power is hard to sustain throughout the show. He knew most people wanted to hear the hits and tried his best to please the crowd. At times he appeared to be goofing around with his band mates, then he would turn around to play a deep-from-the-soul guitar solo.

Between songs small talk he seemed to want to vent, often referring to dreams, anger, and heartache. It seems he still might be recovering from his break-up with Jessica Simpson – Eck, did I just write her name on my blog? – and was channeling that energy into his performance.

Though he provided a good effort, the performance felt as if something was missing. I think the HP Pavilion is too big of a place for John Mayer (most of the 200 section was empty) – at least for now. An indoor venue like the Warfield or even the outdoor Shoreline Amphitheater might be better suited for his talents.

Rating: ** (out of five)

One thought on “Big Fish in a Small Pond – Summer Concerts

  1. Great write-ups! As in the past, when you and I used to go to shows all the time, there were shows clumped together and then long stretches of nothing-go-to-see. Here, you had a nice run.I really regret missing the Police play “Driven to Tears.” I’m glad you got to see that.Interesting that John Mayer’s performance is an 11/4 split, set to encores. The Police’s is an 18/2 split. Man, those old guys can stick kick *ss.

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