Another Flight to Mars with Mike McCready & Friends

I can’t get enough of Mike McCready’s guitar playing, as I continue being spoiled living in Seattle and getting to hear Mike and his rock star friends at ridiculously low prices in intimate nightclub settings for charity. Spoiled, except for the fact his main band never plays Seattle these days.  No, the Gorge isn’t Seattle, at least for those of us without cars.  Shouldn’t those of us who leave a small carbon footprint be rewarded? ; ) OK, so really I don’t have a car because I’m too broke to have one and would have to live in it if I did, but still. . .

On to the show!  After missing out on a reprise of Tom Morello playing the newly reopened Crocodile for $15 because a friend was in crisis, I jumped at the chance for tickets for Mike’s latest fundraiser at the Showbox  (at the Market) for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, even though I was in Boston for Amnesty International’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the time (yeah, I still need to blog about that one). Tickets only $20, except Ticketmaster tacked on almost $15 in “convenience” charges (still a bargain, but come on, a 75% profit on charity tickets?!!).

You really got to appreciate the guys in Pearl Jam for their attempt to fight Ticketmaster on fan rip offs, even though it cost them at the time. Mike’s my personal hero for being willing to go so public with his ordeal with Crohn’s disease, most recently pushing for public restroom access in Washington state for those who suffer from Crohn’s and similar diseases. Whatever I have is milder than Crohn’s, but on a bad day – you got to go, when you got to go! 

It was a dark and stormy night. . . No, really, it was rainy and very windy as we waited in line Saturday at the Showbox (at the Market), the original Showbox, across the street from Pike Place Market. It doesn’t get more Seattle than that!

What can you say with a show that opens with Shadow ‘86, Mike’s Hendrix tribute band?  Mike’s guitar playing is absolutely amazing, especially when he’s playing some Jimi!  Purple Haze, All Along the Watchtower, and of course, Voodoo Child (Slight Return) and many others.  Mike was having a great time with his band mates, Chris Friel and Rick Friel, who were also great, as always.  Kim Virant did come out again for this show, this time to sing the lead on Angel.

Here’s the full, official Pearl Jam video of Shadow ‘86 playing Voodoo Child (Slight Return) at the November 3 (night before the election) concert I went to at the Showbox (at the Market) last year.  I’ve previously posted a fan clip showing Mike playing the guitar behind his back. That man is incredible!

Oh, yeah – Stone Gossard came out and joined Mike with Shadow ‘86 to sing David Lee Roth’s Just Like Living in Paradise, a song choice that got a bit of flack from some of the fans and one of the guys in Duff McKagan’s band, but Stone was having so much fun with it!

Duff McKagan’s Loaded was up next.  McKagan (better known from Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver)   lives in Seattle these days, even writing for the Seattle Weekly’s blog, Reverb, not to mention a hilarious column on dating tips for men for the paper, just in time for Valentine’s Day this year. Now who would have thought a rocker like Duff would be a romantic? Of course, the last part, for future daters of his daughter is especially funny.  You thought the DeNiro character was scary. . .

It was great having an all rock and roll lineup this year, or at least what I call rock and roll.  I wasn’t that into the Feral Children that the younger crowd was into last year. What the heck, I’m pushing 50 (only one year from my AARP card as of tomorrow), so I don’t have to pretend I understand young people’s music these days.

Duff and the boys in the Loaded band have the in-your-face rock star attitude.  I’m sure this was the kind of rock show my father was always worried I was going to. . .

Mike McCready came out with Flight to Mars, his UFO tribute band, rocking us past 1 in the morning.  Great band and lead singer, Paul Passereli, they were all over the place and having the time of their lives.  All the bands were just having a blast.  I love club shows! 

Rock Bottom was just the ultimate.  Their version Saturday night was epic (the clip from a gig two years ago above isn’t epic, but will give you an idea). They went into the lengthy solos.  Kelly Van Camp did a terrific and epic solo on the drums. Then, just imagine this one, Mike McCready in another jaw dropping incredible guitar solo, with his shirt off and tattoos showing, bathed in blue spotlight, just a few feet away.

On the one hand, I wish I had brought my camera, because it would have been an incredible shot (then again, I’m not the greatest photographer).  On the other hand my thought for the evening, that I wanted to enjoy the evening and focusing on taking pictures does take some of the focus off the taking in the show, and maybe I wouldn’t have been as mesmerized by his playing, if I was trying to get the perfect shot.

Here’s one I found on Flickr, from Bridget Christian’s photo set of Flight to Mars playing at El Corazon back in August:

Mike McCready

Both Duff McKagan’s Loaded and Flight to Mars did their versions of Iggy Pop’s I Wanna Be Your Dog, which the guys in the crowd (and it was mostly guys in the thick of it up front where I was) were really into.  There’s a lot about guys I still don’t understand. . .

Loaded’s version from Osaka, Japan in2001:

The winner of the auction to play with Mike and Flight to Mars, Jeremy (no kidding), came up and was trading riffs with Mike and the band on their version of I Wanna Be Your Dog.  That’s got to be a Guitar Hero fantasy moment!  Jeremy was pretty good, and no, I don’t think Jeremy was wicked ; ) .  Although, I did see the band was treating him with a lot of respect.  I think that had to do with the size of his bid, though.

Another great evening.  I love living in Seattle!  Still, I may have to move to Boston or Chicago to hear Mike’s other band. . .  It really sucks when one of your favorite bands doesn’t play in your city, especially when they live in your city.  It’d be like Springsteen not playing Jersey (and he even still plays Asbury Park, where he started out).  Come on, Seattle audiences aren’t that bad!  We were really rocking Saturday night! 

I always feel silly asking a band to play your city, but then again, this is silly. 

Please, Pearl Jam, play Seattle!

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Rocking out with Mike McCready

So, last weekend at The Showbox (the original, near Pike Place Market) I got to rock out to Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready and a number of other incredible local musicians as a fundraiser for the Chrohn’s & Colitis Foundation (Northwest Chapter).  I knew Mike’s Hendrix tribute alone would be worth the price of admission.  Great music for a great cause!

I’ve always appreciated Mike speaking out about Chrohn’s Disease (which he suffers from), like he did before the show in the Seattle PI, even before I started having troubles with something similar (though, fortunately, not as serious).  I went to Portland a couple summers ago for a Pearl Jam benefit for Chrohn’s and marveled about Mike being able to play through the pain.  Then about a half year later, towards the start of December, my own guts got hit. 

At it’s worst (from Dec. to Feb. last year), whatever I had (Group Health never diagnosed it, but I think it’s IBS) was definitely as bad as Mike describes in the article.  While it got better with medicine and watching what I eat,  I was still on shaky ground though most of last summer, and still have to be careful.  Eating out or at friends can still be a landmine (especially as all of the veggie sources of protein are problematic with me, which means eating more meat and being a bad girl; as most of my friends are vegetarians or vegans). I’m pretty much a wimp when it hits at it’s worse, no matter how many times I play Inside Job, the incredibly beautiful song Mike wrote about dealing with Chrohn’s.

I know, I’m digressing (if not digesting) too much.  On with the show!

There was a long line waiting to get in when I got there, held back about 20 feet from The Showbox, with a scenic view of the historic Pike Place Market while we waited, a captive audience for the panhandlers working the crowd.  They let us in a few at a time, to split up between ticket holders and those of us on will call or buying (a much slower line).  I liked how the security guy taking tickets was asking everyone to smile before he let them in.

Kristen Ward (who the Seattle Times is predicting as Seattle’s next big star) opened, and proved her mettle.  Kristin (and her band) really rocked out a lot more, and had more of an edge, than the few clips I had checked out on her MySpace page (which I enjoyed) let on.  She has a sultry voice and her songs tend toward folk rock and Americana.  I was especially impressed she was able to hold a crowd bent on hearing Mike McCready’s tributes to Jimi Hendrix and UFO, even when she had to pause to tune her guitar.

During the break, the young man who was mc’ing (well, young to me, maybe late 20’s, early 30’s) talked about his own experience with Crohn’s and the camp for young sufferers where he volunteered as a counselor, which the concert proceeds would help.  I bought 5 raffle tickets for $20, and a chance to win autographed cds,  an autographed Ames Brother’s poster book, boxing gloves (autographed by famous boxers, who I’m absolutely clueless about) and 4 seats to a Mariners/Boston Red Sox game.

(Photo from CCFA website)

Next up, Shadow ’86, a reunion of Mike McCready’s first band, with Mike playing an incredible tribute to Jimi. Killing Floor, Voodoo Chile (someone YouTubed this one, which I’ll try to post below, but here’s the link), Star Spangled Banner (which Mike often tag’s off the end of Yellow Ledbetter at the end of Pearl Jam shows, sometimes with), Little Wing (Kim Virant joined them to sing lead vocal on this one), ending the Hendrix tribute with Watchtower.  Next Duff (formerly of Guns N’ Roses) joined them for The RamonesChinese Rocks and Iggy Pop & The StoogesI Wanna Be Your Dog.

Mike seemed to me to be playing through the pain during the Hendrix set.  I couldn’t help but notice the young man mc’ing watching from the wings in awe at Mike’s playing (as were we all).

After that Feral Children took over the stage.  No, really, that’s the band’s name; and how they played!  I was waaaay too old for this music.  Then again, a fundraiser should have a band waaay too young for someone approaching her birthday which is only 2 years from the official AARP invite (which happens waaay too young; still I will be 30 years older than the average freshman at UW this fall -ouch!).

Just before Mike came back on stage, his wife came out, introduced as the one who got Mike to do something about his disease.  She helped sell a lot more raffle tickets (and said the Mariners’ tickets were choice seats – her’s and Mike’s) and there was a drawing . . . Nope, I didn’t win anything (but a great evening).

Then it was time for a Flight to Mars (Mike’s UFO tribute band).  No, I don’t think they have anything to do with the Pluto is a Planet protest I blogged about and took photos of.  Mike played another fantastic set with Flight to Mars.  Just incredible guitar playing.  He was the star the whole night and took over the show, even when he wasn’t the lead singer.  You know how good Eddie has to be to really take the lead and why Pearl Jam is such a great band.  Mike was obviously feeling better when he came back out, too.  He was even mugging for the crowd and all their digital cameras they had out (I kind of regret not bringing mine).

I was exhausted and properly rocked by the end of the show; and I almost lost my hat.  Yeah, my goofy hippie hat.  I had tucked it into the pocket of my jacket, which I had tied around my waist, along with my sweatshirt (too cheap to pay for the coat check).  Someone found it and asked at the end of the show.  I say I’m tired of it, but I quickly reclaimed it (and there was a young woman more than willing to take it if no one else did).  Ahh, well, the Hatterdashery booth will be back again, I’m sure, starting with the University District Street Fair next weekend.

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Oh, and I was just a few people away from the stage for both of Mike’s sets (and on his side of the stage for the second set).  How lucky I am to live in Seattle, you may say (especially if you’re a Pearl Jam fan).  Indeed, I could have caught Stone doing a Hank Williams tribute this week, and Stone and Jeff will be playing as part of the reunited Green River band for the Sub Pop anniversary event this summer.  However, . . . Pearl Jam doesn’t seem to ever play here!  Indeed, Eddie didn’t even play here for his solo April Fools’ tour.  No, the Gorge isn’t Seattle (not for those of us without cars, anyways).  It’s in the middle of nowhere and there are no concert buses.  I’m half seriously thinking of moving to Boston or Chicago so I can see Pearl Jam!  They always play there (and, indeed, are playing Boston once again this summer).

Could it be, the Seattle audiences?  I don’t know, but I think I finally understood after getting to slip in to see the Los Lobos show I tabled at Benaroya; and finding no one, or almost no one, was dancing!!!  Seriously, everyone sitting, like it was the symphony, at a rock concert!!!  The two (or three, counting me) people dancing had to move to the back of the room to not disturb anyone!!!

Excuse my language, but WTF?!!  OK, I was tabling that one for Amnesty International, so really excuse my language.  I’m not projecting a good image here.  It’s just, what has happened to rock and roll?  At least in Seattle.  You know, I do have some cousins in Boston. . .

Photos from the show: Lizardkings1 on Photobucket

Voodoo Chile by Shadow ’86, featuring Mike McCready: