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Old 05-12-2019, 01:49 AM
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Most miserable looking live band


My vote is for The Eagles. No question of the musical perfection. But every performance by them over the past 20-30 years on TV seems like if any of the guitarists show any sort of personality they will be beaten to death by Don Henley’s drumsticks.

What about other bands can you tell while playing live they just weren’t “into it”?


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Old 05-12-2019, 02:09 AM
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Though I never saw them personally, I had several friends who saw The Cars play live, and all of them said it was among the weakest concerts they'd ever attended. The band had no stage presence, looked bored, and didn't engage with the audience at all (though, I've read things that suggest the act was a conscious decision on the band's part).

This discussion thread on a music forum features a number of people pretty much saying the same thing.

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Old 05-12-2019, 06:45 AM
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I saw Alan Parson Project once, opening for Yes. Their set was good, if not predictable, but man, they just stood there. No presence at all. We had guest seats at the lighting console, and I just went up there to watch the crowd instead of the band.
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Old 05-12-2019, 11:01 AM
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Though I never saw them personally, I had several friends who saw The Cars play live, and all of them said it was among the weakest concerts they'd ever attended. The band had no stage presence, looked bored, and didn't engage with the audience at all (though, I've read things that suggest the act was a conscious decision on the band's part).

This discussion thread on a music forum features a number of people pretty much saying the same thing.
Yeah, I saw them live. They came out and said "Hello" or something then just started to play. They sounded great, unlike some live bands do. And when they were done they said "Bye" or thank you or something. Sounded great but you might as well have sat in your car in the parking lot and listened to their tape.
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Old 05-12-2019, 11:26 AM
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Re The Cars, Ric Ocasek was notable for being fairly reserved and Ben Orr was usually the one who announced songs...and it's true he never said much more than the name of the next song, if that. Greg was doing his Ray Manzarek imitation of course. None of them would smile or act like they were enjoying it. But they DID provide really, really good sound and were extremely tight. I don't remember any extended/fat solos, either.

Perhaps strangely, I found ZZ Top to be pretty similar, at least the two times I saw them. They did a lot of corny things (the conveyor belts, the bumper cars, etc.), but they acted very serious the entire time. I know it's part of their image, but it did seem weird.

Neil Young and CH also seem to take the whole show way too seriously.

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Old 05-12-2019, 11:32 AM
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99.5% of Grateful Dead shows from the late-1980's to the mid-90's so-called "Mega-Dead Era" (recall that Jerry Garcia in died 1995 and along with him the actual, proper band "The Grateful Dead", the subsequent various spin-off bands notwithstanding) featured virtually zero initial band introductions, no in-between songs stage banter or any other actual verbal communication from the band to the audience, although sometimes after the end of the first set, Bob Weir might say, "We'll be back in a little bit." and after the encore, perhaps a quick "Thank you, goodnight." but even that was hit or miss.

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Old 05-12-2019, 12:11 PM
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Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers really didn't show any stage presence. No real interaction with the crowd. I suspect, though, that Steve is a bit tired of having to be 'on' all the time and just wanted to play. I don't fault him for it. Good music.

I have heard that Joe Cocker doesn't interact at ALL. Plays, and is gone.

Tom Petty really did have a nice show and you could tell that he was close to his band. Very sad. Too soon.
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Old 05-12-2019, 12:43 PM
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Yeah, I saw them live. They came out and said "Hello" or something then just started to play. They sounded great, unlike some live bands do. And when they were done they said "Bye" or thank you or something. Sounded great but you might as well have sat in your car in the parking lot and listened to their tape.
Aye: Cars live was the exact same thing as the record, you just had the band standing in front of you while you heard it. Bore-ing. Blondie wasn't much better.
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Old 05-12-2019, 01:03 PM
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One I just remembered, whom I personally saw, though not a rock artist:

When I was in college, in the 1980s, pianist George Winston was pretty popular, for his series of "rural folk piano" albums, such as Autumn and Winter Into Spring. Very atmospheric, very new-age mellow. My girlfriend was a big fan, and when we learned that he was on tour, and coming to Madison, we got tickets to see him.

The stage had a piano and bench, and nothing more. At the time when the concert was to start, a man walked out on stage, wearing a flannel shirt, jeans, socks, and no shoes. He walked to the front of the stage, bowed once, and then sat down at the piano, and began to play. It was Winston, obviously (it being the 1980s, and there not being a Web, none of us had known what he had looked like until that moment).

At the end of each piece, as the audience applauded, he'd turn on the bench to face the audience, bow his upper body once, then turn back to the piano. When the applause died down, he'd start the next piece. I'm not sure that he said a word the entire time; I suspect that he is very introverted, and not comfortable on stage.
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Old 05-12-2019, 01:04 PM
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Tom Petty really did have a nice show and you could tell that he was close to his band. Very sad. Too soon.
I agree -- excellent stage presence, had a lot of fun with each other, and with the audience, and clearly enjoyed playing live.
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Old 05-12-2019, 05:33 PM
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Pink Floyd just stood there, dwarfed by their gigantic circular screen and whatever else was going on, playing background music to their own show.

That doesn't mean they weren't "into it," though. Each band has its own personality. Some bounce around the stage and some just play the music. I'd rather have the music be good than hear the band yell out the name of the city.
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Old 05-12-2019, 07:05 PM
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Not exactly a band, and author of many of my favorite songs,but watching Bob Dylan in a large setting(ie. a pro basketball arena) is basically watching a little man sitting awkwardly on a bar stool from far, far away for two hours
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Old 05-12-2019, 07:21 PM
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Pink Floyd just stood there, dwarfed by their gigantic circular screen and whatever else was going on, playing background music to their own show.

That doesn't mean they weren't "into it," though. Each band has its own personality. Some bounce around the stage and some just play the music. I'd rather have the music be good than hear the band yell out the name of the city.
I never saw Pink Floyd live, but did have the two-tape VHS "movie" of their Delicate Sound of Thunder concert tour, and I agree that there wasn't much "showmanship,' in the sense of playing to the audience, but their performance was still riveting to me. I remember watching Dave Gilmour as he finished Comfortably Numb; it was like he was waking up from a dream, and he gave the wildly cheering audience a shy smile.
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Old 05-12-2019, 09:01 PM
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Twenty years ago, The Eagles (in some form) had already been playing for eighteen years. I think they can be excused for looking like they were phoning it in.

Consider just about any singer who has ever been featured on one of those PBS fund-raising nostalgia shows. I can tell they're happy to still be able to perform, and that people will still pay money to see them perform, but their performances have become so polished that they're mechanical, except maybe when they're actually interacting with the audience. And that's the part that usually gets cut out of TV performances.
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Old 05-12-2019, 09:24 PM
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99.5% of Grateful Dead shows from the late-1980's to the mid-90's so-called "Mega-Dead Era" (recall that Jerry Garcia in died 1995 and along with him the actual, proper band "The Grateful Dead", the subsequent various spin-off bands notwithstanding) featured virtually zero initial band introductions, no in-between songs stage banter or any other actual verbal communication from the band to the audience, although sometimes after the end of the first set, Bob Weir might say, "We'll be back in a little bit." and after the encore, perhaps a quick "Thank you, goodnight." but even that was hit or miss.
In the 1970s, when the Dead’s audience got big, people crushed up toward the front to get as close to the speakers as possible — either on the right (the Jerry Side) or the left (the Phil Zone). Bob Weir would often spend a while between tunes coaxing folks to “take a STEP BACK....now another STEP BACK” because the band was worried everyone was going to get horribly smashed.

It was always a huge treat when Jerry would actually say something. He had a lovely dry sense of humor. At a 1969 show at the Fillmore East Bill Graham was introducing the band and made a crack about “aspiring to become the world’s greatest cowbell player.” You can just barely hear Garcia behind him drawling “....give up.”
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Old 05-12-2019, 09:34 PM
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Not exactly a band, and author of many of my favorite songs,but watching Bob Dylan in a large setting(ie. a pro basketball arena) is basically watching a little man sitting awkwardly on a bar stool from far, far away for two hours
I’ve been to Dylan shows ranging from great to godawful, but the best was in the early 90s in Asturias in northern Spain in a bullring. Shortly after the second set began I left the seats and wandered down to the arena front. The stage was only around six feet high.

The band took a break and Bob played “Mr. Tambourine Man” with acoustic guitar and harmonica, just for me.
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Old 05-12-2019, 09:52 PM
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im told the Ramones could be great one night and totally drizziling shitty the next.....i mean theyed have to start the songs 2 or 3 times .... sometimes playing a totally different song than the one they started ..... and they could be great at pissing off an audience ....... like taking a break and then get in a fight with each other backstage and just leave the concert in separate directions with everyone waiting for them to come back ...
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Old 05-12-2019, 09:57 PM
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The Replacements, during the 1980s, almost exclusively played while staggering drunk.
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Old 05-13-2019, 09:13 AM
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Didn't the Replacements get banned from SNL? Stinson was so drunk that Westerberg (who was himself wandering around the stage) told him to "Fück right off!" (which Lorne Michels didn't appreciate). I rewatched it later, and damn, they still turned in a great performance.


BTW, I feel so lucky that I caught Dylan on a good night. He was sober, coherent, and get this, seemed to like the human race. A bonus was that he changed the styles and lyrics of his songs.

From everything my friends have told me, he and Van Morrison are a coin toss. Heads/tails; engaged/aloof; sober/not so much...

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Old 05-13-2019, 10:07 AM
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A boyfriend and I were always amazed at how dull Maroon 5 looked when we saw them making the talk show circuit during their initial rise to fame. I couldn't stand Adam Levine from the first time I saw one of their videos but I was really shocked that such a limp noodle was considered a heart throb once I saw them perform.

I seem to recall Rush being devoid of stage presence.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:08 AM
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I read the Moody Blues were very boring and pretty much played the songs note for note from the album versions.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:24 AM
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I read the Moody Blues were very boring and pretty much played the songs note for note from the album versions.
I had heard that, though I saw them a few years ago, and they were a lot more lively, Graeme Edge, especially. I won't say they were exciting, but they weren't boring.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:36 AM
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im told the Ramones could be great one night and totally drizziling shitty the next.....i mean theyed have to start the songs 2 or 3 times .... sometimes playing a totally different song than the one they started ..... and they could be great at pissing off an audience ....... like taking a break and then get in a fight with each other backstage and just leave the concert in separate directions with everyone waiting for them to come back ...
I would love to see a cite for that; it flies in the face of my own experiences and everything I know about the Ramones.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:44 AM
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Saw several of the groups described above.

Cars back in 79-ish, Springfield IL. Yeah, they just stood there and played, basically posing. Basically played their 1st album. Middle-IL crowd didn't know what to make of them. We were more interested in Jules Shears - their opener. He put on a great show.

Saw Pink Floyd Animals in Soldier Field. The entire experience was so over the top, I don't know that I could fault the individual band-members' energy.

Saw TP in Urbana Champaign around 1984. I was a big fan of his first couple of albums, but lost interest thereafter. More interested in seeing Squeeze open. TP's set impressed us as entirely scripted - nothing spontaneous. Run to spot A; Raise hands; etc. We left partway thru.

Ramones - saw them in a club around 78, and in a 1000 seater a couple years later. Great shows - both. The club show was the loudest show I remember.

Most boring show I can recall was Boston - I imagine after their 2d album. High on bombast - zero spontaneity.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:45 AM
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I saw New Order at Riot Fest 2017 and they seemed just kind of there. They played their songs and it sounded fine but the band didn't seem to put much energy into them. They were sandwiched between Ministry and Nine Inch Nails and the differences between them and the other two bands were pretty glaring and obvious. I thought it would have worked better if New Order played before Ministry.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:48 AM
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Dylan was about the worst show I saw, maybe 10 years ago. Unintelligible garble fronting a band cranked up so high that it came out pure noise. The audience wanted to cheer every song he started, but with most they had to sit silent for a while because no one could figure out what song it was.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:52 AM
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Saw several of the groups described above.

Most boring show I can recall was Boston - I imagine after their 2d album. High on bombast - zero spontaneity.
I read that when Boston only had 1 album out they did an encore and then said "sorry we don't have any more songs to play"
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:09 PM
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Cars back in 79-ish, Springfield IL. Yeah, they just stood there and played, basically posing. Basically played their 1st album. Middle-IL crowd didn't know what to make of them. We were more interested in Jules Shears - their opener. He put on a great show.
Same experience I had in the mid 80s. It really felt like we were watching band practice, I don't think one Car even acknowledged there was an audience. Their opener was Wang Chung and although their interaction was ok at best, it was head and shoulders above the Cars.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:00 PM
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I have heard that Joe Cocker doesn't interact at ALL. Plays, and is gone.
Cocker has been quite hamstrung in the interaction department the last 4+ years.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:10 PM
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Not exactly a band, and author of many of my favorite songs,but watching Bob Dylan in a large setting(ie. a pro basketball arena) is basically watching a little man sitting awkwardly on a bar stool from far, far away for two hours
I was at a Dylan concert sometime in the mid-90s. I was right in front of the stage, but I guess it wasn't any better for me than for all the people that were far, far away. And I'm saying this as someone who was a big Dylan fan at the time.

He basically didn't even acknowledge that there was an audience present, he just stared at some point on the horizon for the whole concert and played his music. I'm not even sure if his facial expression changed at all during the whole show.

Then again, if people see you as a walking talking legend already, they're going to cheer and applaud anyways, no matter how unengaging you are.

The audience cheered and applauded whenever a song started. They cheered and applauded whenever they actually recognized the song. And to be honest, he probably could have farted into his harmonica on stage, and people would have cheered and applauded.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:25 PM
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It was always a huge treat when Jerry would actually say something. He had a lovely dry sense of humor.
I love this Jerry moment at Cal Expo on 6/10/90:

Phil: "There's this rumor been going around that I'm gonna leave the band after the Eugene shows...well it's a bullshit lie!"

Crowd goes wild. Long pause.

Jerry: "Yeah, the rest of us are quitting."
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:32 PM
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I saw New Order at Riot Fest 2017 and they seemed just kind of there. They played their songs and it sounded fine but the band didn't seem to put much energy into them. They were sandwiched between Ministry and Nine Inch Nails and the differences between them and the other two bands were pretty glaring and obvious. I thought it would have worked better if New Order played before Ministry.
i was going to add them too .....they did that "live ta the corona cantina online" thing corona beer does a while back and they hardly moved ... but that's been them their whole career ... the only one that has any expression most of the time is the keyboardist when she makes an appearance and she's so bored of their old catalog the does little things to amuse herself .....
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:07 PM
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I read that when Boston only had 1 album out they did an encore and then said "sorry we don't have any more songs to play"
They should have had something prepared like the Folksmen had on for their encore on "A Mighty Wind."
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Old 05-13-2019, 03:03 PM
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Boston is a good choice. Saw them in 78 or 79 touring for their second album. Sammy Hagar opened for them and had the place rocking. Boston came out and sleepwalked through their set. People were walking out halfway through the show.
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Old 05-13-2019, 05:07 PM
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Watching The Stone Roses and Oasis live they both seemed pretty miserable but their music was amazing.

Not sure if it’s a British indie thing but I’ve also seen Blur and many other UK indie bands who also don’t put on a show and smile/crowd please but their music is what you go to listen to not the happy smiley faces of the band.

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Old 05-13-2019, 05:15 PM
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Dylan was about the worst show I saw, maybe 10 years ago. Unintelligible garble fronting a band cranked up so high that it came out pure noise. The audience wanted to cheer every song he started, but with most they had to sit silent for a while because no one could figure out what song it was.
I agree, Dylan was bad. He stood at the mic with his hand on his hip, as though he was propped up. Every song sounded the same, and the worst part was, most of them were Sinatra covers. What a letdown.
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Old 05-13-2019, 05:17 PM
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I forgot the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Concert. Musicians enveloped by banks of synthesizers, percussion, and especially speakers. Of course, all the music was synthesized. From where we were setting, I wasn't sure if it was live, prerecorded, or a Disneyland animatronic jamboree.
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Old 05-13-2019, 05:20 PM
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Dylan was about the worst show I saw, maybe 10 years ago. Unintelligible garble fronting a band cranked up so high that it came out pure noise. The audience wanted to cheer every song he started, but with most they had to sit silent for a while because no one could figure out what song it was.
I was going to say exactly that. We saw Dylan in the 90's in a joint show with John Prine. Prine was great, but Dylan was a mess. He shuffled out onto the stage, sat on a stool, and proceeded to mumble things we couldn't understand while his band played unintelligible music. He did that for about 45 minutes, then walked off. We entertained ourselves during the set by playing a game where the first person to identify the song he was singing won.

It was a really hard game.

More recently we saw The New Pornographers, who we had seen several times and really liked, but this time was awful. They only played songs from their latest two albums which haven't sold well and were mostly unknown to the audience And their playing was very much by the numbers.

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Old 05-13-2019, 07:58 PM
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Dylan was about the worst show I saw, maybe 10 years ago. Unintelligible garble fronting a band cranked up so high that it came out pure noise. The audience wanted to cheer every song he started, but with most they had to sit silent for a while because no one could figure out what song it was.
My experience exactly, maybe 12 years ago. We left halfway through his set.
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:09 PM
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I remember a quote from someone who worked at the Worcester Centrum after the Cars played. He said that so much of the “live” music was pre-recorded that the band members didn’t even have to be onstage for most of the show.

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Though I never saw them personally, I had several friends who saw The Cars play live, and all of them said it was among the weakest concerts they'd ever attended. The band had no stage presence, looked bored, and didn't engage with the audience at all (though, I've read things that suggest the act was a conscious decision on the band's part).

This discussion thread on a music forum features a number of people pretty much saying the same thing.
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:15 PM
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Man, I’m sorry all you guys had such rotten times at Dylan shows. That 1993 Spain concert and one in Madison Square Garden in 2000 (Joni Mitchell was the opener) were two of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.

Maybe you should just put on the CD of the 1966 Royal Albert Hall show (with The Band), roll a doobie, close your eyes, and pretend you’re there.
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Old 05-13-2019, 11:45 PM
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Aerosmith sucked. Could have just watched videos and stayed home.

ZZ Top, however, have always been awesome. Seen them several times.
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Old 05-14-2019, 12:16 AM
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My vote is for The Eagles. No question of the musical perfection. But every performance by them over the past 20-30 years on TV seems like if any of the guitarists show any sort of personality they will be beaten to death by Don Henley’s drumsticks.

What about other bands can you tell while playing live they just weren’t “into it”?


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Completely disagree. I saw their shows in Japan in 1995 and 2011. It's not like they danced around or moved much from their positions. However, they were very engaging with fans (Frey & Walsh), they smiled a lot (Walsh & Schmitt), cracked jokes (Henley), etc. Glenn even said some phrases in Japanese!
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Old 05-14-2019, 12:46 AM
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Though I never saw them personally, I had several friends who saw The Cars play live, and all of them said it was among the weakest concerts they'd ever attended. The band had no stage presence, looked bored, and didn't engage with the audience at all (though, I've read things that suggest the act was a conscious decision on the band's part).

This discussion thread on a music forum features a number of people pretty much saying the same thing.
This perfectly describes what happened when I saw Boston in the 1990s, and other people who said they saw them over the years said the same thing.

Brilliant studio band; not so great on the stage.
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:51 AM
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Heh - how about most miserable live audience?

My hometown Victoria apparently had a reputation for being a little on the, um, staid side. Lifeless. Downright unresponsive.

The Scorpions and the Nuge have complained about us.

In '81 Motorhead rolled through, with Blizzard of Ozz headlining. At one point, Lemmy, pissed off with how sedate we were, raised his arms and yelled, "Wot is this, a fockin' tea party?" Somewhat chastened, we responded with smatterings of lame "woot"s.


James Brown was often timid, reticent, (almost cowering), as was GG Allin and Madonna.
Kratfwerk, though, could've toned it down a little. (Like, chillax, dudes!)
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:57 AM
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I've seen James Brown twice, and he rates as one of the best shows I've ever seen.
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:27 AM
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Another vote for The Cars. Sounded great and tight, but zero stage presence. Other than Elliot Easton's slightly extended guitar solo on "Candy-O", I could have been staring at a poster while listening to the albums turned up really loud.

ZZ Top was a mixed bag. I saw them in 1986, and they seemed bored and just going through the motions on the then-current MTV hits ("Sleeping Bag", "Velcro Fly") but woke up and seemed to be having fun when they would dip into the back catalog and just start jamming ("Jesus Just Left Chicago", "Arrested For Driving While Blind", "Cheap Sunglasses")

Last edited by ChockFullOfHeadyGoodness; 05-14-2019 at 11:28 AM.
  #48  
Old 05-14-2019, 11:37 AM
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James Brown was often timid, reticent, (almost cowering), as was GG Allin and Madonna.
I never, ever thought I would see the words "timid" and "GG Allin" in the same sentence. You guys must be one hell of an energy sink.
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:44 AM
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Bauhaus, unquestionably.

But then, that's exactly what you'd expect. The only reason I mention it is the thought of Pete Murphy going "Whooooo, yeahhhhh, Hammersmith, c'mon, clap your hands" is faintly hysterical.
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Old 05-14-2019, 12:47 PM
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I have seen the Cars and can vouch for their "lack of excitement" on stage. I am surprised to read about Boston, I have seen them 6 times and I never thought they were boring.

I saw Jeff Lynne's ELO a few years ago. Music was great but it could have been a cardboard cutout of Jeff up there, no words except "thank you" and little movement.
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