From The Ticket Stub Bin: Joe Cocker

Today’s Music: Joe Cocker. See below.
Days Til Spring: 58 (and it’s snowing like mad here, so I can’t wait for the warm!)

Soul, R & B. Rock and Roll. All those styles are alive and well. There are great new bands putting out incredible music, and it’s possible to step right in and enjoy it no primer needed.
But there are acts that came before that pushed the envelop. They broadened horizons and brought music no one knew right into our ears.

Joe Cocker is one of those acts.
So when he was paying the Beacon Theater, maybe 15 years ago, and Big Mike asked if I wanted to go, there was only one possible answer: Hell yes!

It was a typical concert night – meet in the city, grab a beer and some food, then head into the Beacon. Grab another beer or a soda, and head in to find our seats. The Beacon theater is a grand old room. Floor, Mezzanine, Balcony. Sculptured roof with gold gilding. Wide stage that extends almost the width of the hall. Semi comfortable seats, with almost enough legroom for someone six feet tall.

So we’re settled in our seats (floor level, towards the back), and the lights go down. No opening act, so this was for Joe. The crowd surged to its feet as the PA announced Joe Cocker!!! Out strode the band, taking their positions, and Joe followed right behind.

The band kicked in…
Joe grabbed the microphone..
And then…
He played, note for note, the entire Best Of Joe Cocker album.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a good show. And seeing Joe Cocker moving around onstage (he’d toned down the twitchiness a lot) was a sight to see. I mean, here was an important voice from the earlier days of rock and roll, who’s soulfulness bridged a gap from Black music to bring it, via England, to everyone in America. And once he did it, his influence was profound. Bands making that same sound popped up across the landscape.
To this day, when Joe comes on the radio, my head nods back and forth, my fingers tap, and there’s a little extra bounce in my step.
I think he’s a great singer, even as an older man because it added an extra gravelly-ness to a voice he still controlled well.
I’m glad I saw him, just to be in the same room and feel the music.
But overall, it was an average show, devoid of spontaneity and surprise. He still did a really good job with the songs, it’s just that he performed them exactly as expected.

One bright spot of the show – he did play my favorite Joe Cocker song:

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126 responses to “From The Ticket Stub Bin: Joe Cocker

  1. He’s a brilliant talent.

    It’s really a balance between singing all the songs we all know and adding something new, isn’t it? Some artists err too far on the side of “I am not going to play THAT song again” for certain favorites, which is also a let down.

  2. We have the same taste in many things, that’s for sure.

    Caught Joe Cocker a couple of years ago when I was down in Florida – opening act: Dave Mason. Mason did some Traffic hits (Dear Mr. Fantasy, etc) and was a solid opening act.

    Cocker ROCKED It. No average show. “you can leave your hat on” might have been the best moment – or maybe it tied with “she came in through the bathroom window” – or when Mason joined him on stage for “feeling alright”.

    Rock on, man! Hey – it’s not snowing here yet – where are you?

    • Well. it’s also “how does he feel tonight?” I saw John Mellencamp play. Expected a great show. Instead it was just ok, and a little short (an hour forty, maybe?)
      turns out he was going to the funeral of a childhood friend the next day, so completely understandable if he was a bit distracted.

      I’m in the frozen wasteland of nyc.
      (If there’s reincarnation and I don’t come back as a palm tree in the tropics, I’m really going to be pissed.)

  3. I love Joe Cocker. And, Leave Your Hat On is still one of my faves. Thanks for the music this morning, Guap!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Kayjai. This ones been rattling in my head for a bit. I mean, I’m glad I got to see a legend, but it was just a lackluster show.
      (Fortunately, the music still stands up!)

  4. Thank goodness for the TV show, “Wonder Years” or I may never have heard of him… Yes, I know this is quite pathetic.

    • *stares disbelievingly, in horror and shock*

      His “With a Little Help From My Friends” is great, but I never really got into that song. Still, it;s a good place to start.

  5. What instigated this post? He didn’t die, did he? Joe Cocker is The Man. I’ve seen that dude twice and both performances were memorable. He didn’t do the walk-through that you experienced. He surrounds himself with top-notch musicians. That always helps. The Beacon is a great venue. I saw (among others) Bryan Ferry there quite a while back.

    Look out the window! It’s snowing already! It wasn’t supposed to start until after 1:00.

    • In between the silliness and occasional prompt, I also post often music and adventure.
      I have a decent enough set of ticket stubs (which I’m always looking to add to), and sometimes I’ll do a concert review too.

      I’m glad he put on great shows for you. Actually makes me a bit more disappointed that the one I saw was average. I agree that he and his band are extraordinary, but I wouldn’t go see him again.
      (Also, there’s too much other great stuff to see!)

      It was snowing when I got off the subway.

      • We’ll see who’s meh-ing when you leave at 5:00 and the town is buried, Mr. Smart Guy. My bus ride home to New Jersey should be a genuine thrill. Like a ride at Great Adventure except I could actually die. If you get a chance take a walk up to Central Park. It is bee-you-tee-ful after a fresh coating of snow.

        • We can see the park from my office. Yeah, it looks stunning in its winter finery!
          They’re closing the office at 3. Of course I’m IT, also for the market support desk, so I’ll be here to the bitter (freezing) end.
          But I may go to Schnippers later if my friend is around, so…

          • Go with the Hickory Bacon Blue burger, if that’s your fancy. Also, top-notch mac and cheese. You can get a whole order or as a side. It’s a tad pricy but I feel it’s worth it. If you think it’s lacking, say so. I can take it.

  6. Guapo, Cocker?? I’m so jealous. That man could read the dictionary to me and I’d be happy. I thought I’d quite the list of concerts under my belt. Nothing close to as cool as this.

    • I would love to trade concert stories with you! I’m a sucker for good music, even more for a good show.

      • The best *show* I’ve ever seen was Thee Silver Mount Zion tra la la band (The guy from godspeed you! black emperor) playing their very first show in the U.S. at a club in Brooklyn. Almost the entire crowd was in tears while singing along to “God Bless Our Dead Marines”.

        • For some reason, the small Brooklyn rooms get some of the best shows – Eels in Williamsburgh, Electric Six at the Bell House…

        • Wow! I’m going to have to relisten to that (and check out their other stuff) when I can pay more attention to it.

          They sound like an acquired taste. I love that they have a dedicated audience!

          • Oh, it’s brilliant *music* in my book. The layering, his poetry, the instruments. I’m not a religious person, at all. Being at that show was like having a spiritual experience, shared with the other people in that concrete room. It was beautiful. That song is beautiful. It makes me go: “how does this even come out of a person?” Brilliance.

  7. We saw the Violent Femmes once that was kind of like that – I was so excited to see them for the first time; and the show was ‘meh’ (I think they were all very drunk and discombobulated) but the next time I saw them, they were SPOT ON FANTASTIC. At least you got to see him, right? If I got to see Frank Zappa, and it was mediocre (hard to imagine) at least I’d gotten to see him – he’s a legend and a favorite.

    • Ha! Went to see the Femmes last summer. Four songs, then they called the show for rain.
      And then my kindle got soaked. Apparently the case was designed less to keep damage out, and more to keep water in.

      So I went downtown to see Amy Lynn and the Gunshow instead, since it was a later show. And it was indoors. And they were GREAT!
      (And my socks eventually dried too!)

      I got to see Lou Reed downtown once. That was a weird show. He opened with “Walk On The Wild Side”, then said “And that’s the last song you’ll recognize tonight”. Then he played stuff he and his band were working on. He’d stop every so often to talk to the band and rework a passage.
      Fascinating to see his creativity at work.

      • We saw a show by Ween similar to Lou Reed’s – it was weird – because you sort of expect to have some familiarity when hearing a band live -but it was Ween so it was good anyway.

        I need bands to start earlier for me however :)

        Glad your socks dried, sorry about your kindle. And not seeing the VF for more than 4 songs. They were here recently too and that was a great show.

        • Sadly, me and my boss and I both had tickets for other shows on the night they rescheduled.
          But I did get to hear Blister In The Sun, so…

          • hee hee… I love the live album where there’s voice message about him being locked IN his house by his parents…oi…he’s oddly religious too – but there’s something about his voice I love. I am always delighted when I see he’s playing an instrument (usually a violin or fiddle) on another band’s CD as a guest.

  8. That is rare! Usually they introduce all kinds of new stuff and you’re left screaming for an encore of your faves.

    • I saw Huey Lewis, and the whole front end of the show was all the R&B that he loved. didn’t play the hits until the encore.
      The band was hot that night, but the crowd was actually booing!

      • Wow! Tough crowd….

      • Indeed.

        Huey News and the News got really pigeonholed by Sports, as if they were the sound of the ’80s, and after that, that’s where they’d stay? Bah! Nah, I don’t blame him for wanting to break out of that. I’d rather listen to Huey sing and play harmonica than the lead singer from Blues Traveler (sorry if I offend anyone with this, but I cannot STAND John Popper’s voice)

        • As Huey described it, there was no YouTube or alternate venue. If you wanted your music out in a big way, you did what the record company said.

          Do you know of Greg “Fingers” Taylor? Jimmy Buffets harmonicist. I’ve heard he’s considered one of the best in the game.

          • I don’t, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s connected to Jimmy Buffet.

            I think talent is talent– I was talking to my father today about Steve Martin doing music gigs as a banjo player. I’d seen him play sometimes when he was more active as a comedian, but dang, that guy is good.

            I’m a classically trained musician– I actually wish my education had been better for working sensibilities, but I’ve still got some chops and I actually have a reasonable knowledge of what working musicians do.

  9. Oh, I wish I’d been there! “You can leave your hat on” is such a great song. :)

  10. Love your choice of favorite Joe Cocker song!!

  11. I can’t get on with his voice!

  12. Not my cup of tea, but glad you had a great time. Live shows are always fun to see.

  13. Joe Cocker is brilliant when he’s “on.”

    I know it’s tough for an established artist in choosing a set list. Most people want to hear favorites, but others are tired of the same ole same ole (even the artists themselves). Was it Huey Lewis who played only his new stuff? And the crowd was bummed?

    Love your music posts! Good friends and good music… And guitars and tiki bars…

    • Yeah, it was Huey. The songs he was playing were good. Really good.
      And he was into it, and tried to share it with the crowd, which was even better. It was a crappy crowd, even if they did get the hits in the encore.

      I think Springsteen is the only act I know that will play the whole entire discography in one shot. Half the time, I bet they shut the arena down around him, and just let him go til he has to pee.
      Then they lock him in and cart him to the next venue.

  14. It is funny how bands have to decide which of the stuff they do that we like they are going to play at shows. I always wondered what it was like when you played your most popular song for the 100,000th time.

  15. I don’t go to many concerts, but when I do, I’m one of those who likes to hear the well-known songs. Boring, I know. Most artists prefer concert-goers like you–those who want to hear the unfamiliar and new–and I guess if I was a musician, I’d prefer that, too.

  16. You Can Leave Your Hat On. ‘Nuf said.

  17. Good thing he said you could leave your hat on, cause with all this snow, you’re gonna need it … I’d love to see him live. But reading in the comments that he had lost a friend, well, I’ll let him off the hook. Of course, I didn’t shell out the $50 (a bargain given today’s prices!)

  18. I have never ever been to a concert of any kind.

  19. joe cocker “organic”…Bye Bye Blackbird….over and over and over swaying with sunshine streaming, clouds lazy drift overhead…perfect…
    Harry Belafonte at the Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl asking the people sitting in the Eucalyptus trees surrounding the bowl if they could see ok…then bringing on Miriam Makeba…even those in the trees couldn’t get enough!!! You stir up fond memories, El G…..many thanks! R.

  20. Yes! He’s so great. What a cool concert experience (except for the kind of bland part). But yay your favorite song! I missed my favorite Radiohead song when I went to their concert and I wanted to stab myself. Uggg.

  21. I have hear good things about him live so it’s disappointing I hear he was so -so. There are a lot of performers that have off nights though. We saw wilco a few times in our city and they were terrible.. So unenthusiastic. Then we saw them in October in Austin and it was one of my favourite concerts ever. Some alchemy of venue, crowd and the mood of the band. Even still, the worst night of live music is still something to talk about. I get a lot of mileage out of my Bill Frisell experiences. And you have access to so many great bands and venues in NY. We managed to see 3 or 4 fantastic shows in the week we were there alone. Lucky!

    • That’s so true. With some bands I’ve seen more than once, sometimes, aside from a few chords sounding the same, it’s like a completely different band.

      And I have to admit, shamefully, that as often as he plays here, I’ve never seen Bill Frisell live.

      *hangs head in shame*

  22. There seems to be such an array of well known acts playing in the US all the time. It’s such a significant market and I guess for most of them its their door step. All the way over here, we don’t have the concentration of big acts, they do come here but usually its a stadium venue and tickets cost a bundle. I recently saw Bon Jovi in that setting for the first time and was awed. But I bet a lot of peeps missed out because of the cost. That’s my favourite Joe Cocker song too.

    • It’s also availability. Some shows just sell out too fast.
      But I also really like the smaller rooms, where I’ve seen some incredible shows.

      We may go to Paris over the summer to see Caro Emerald. She doesn’t play the US much yet.

  23. I saw Joe Cocker a few years ago and had a similar experience. He was technically great and pure Joe, but all night I was waiting for him to go off-script –those moments are why you go to a concert instead of sitting at home and listening to the album –and it didn’t happen. The highlight of the show as far as I was concerned was his band. Top notch!

    • Yes! There’s something about the lyric swaps for the hometown, the stories of being stuck in local traffic, the playing with the crowd that all make the show worth going to.

  24. Great song–and one I didn’t know I knew, which is always nice.

    It’s cool when you get to see a legendary artist in concert. I think the only undeniable legends I’ve seen are Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, unless you count the reunited Peter Nesmith-less Monkees, and I’ll bet you don’t.

    • Years ago, I saw a now-closed room advertising a June Carter Cash show. I didn’t go.
      Found out two days later that Johnny and Roseanne Cash showed up and jammed.
      Ah well…

      (Dylan was pretty good live too. Blew Paul Simon off the stage at that show.)

  25. You make me wish I had never thrown out all those concert ticket stubs I had saved over the years!

  26. I don’t go to many concerts anymore, but it’s exciting when they sound a little spontaneous. You know, Live! I would love to see him sing the “You Can Leave Your Hat On.” That might be worth it right there for me. Look at you and Exile, you locals! I hope you weather the storm okay.

  27. Awesome look-back post of seeing a classic rocker. Shame Tull nor he are in the R&R HOF. Takes me back to spring term my freshman year in college when Thick as a Brick was big, thus playing out many dorm windows.

  28. I guess the poor guy chose to play it “safe” and stick to the script. Guess you can’t blame him but I can see where it lacked the spontaneity. :)

  29. Cimmy and I saw Depeche Mode before our honeymoon started… best I can mention, really, for the both of us, besides shows at the fair.

    • Jaklumen, I was just telling my brother-in-law today that Depeche Mode was probably the best concert I ever missed (best one I almost saw). They played in a town near my home, with Stabbing Westward and The The, in about 1992. I bet it would have been great to see. My friends were going, and they even had a ticket for me, but I couldn’t get the night off work.

      • I took my wife to see Depeche Mode(because she loves them, and lord knows I’ve dragged her to enough shows).
        They were good, but overall, they just aren’t a sound I really like.
        And the crowd was a little…odd.

      • Oh, and The The? Wow! there’s a band I haven’t listened to in a while.

      • Wow, Brian! We saw them in 1998 at the Key Arena in Seattle, and Stabbing Westward was also the opening act (which we missed because we were peddling pro photos of DM for a roadie).

        Sorry you missed the concert– it really was a different experience seeing them live. We were in the nosebleed seats, but a very nice couple loaned us their binoculars to get a closer look now and then.

  30. Excellent concert review! I never paid much attention to Joe, even though I know he’s a great singer. After reading this, I wish I could see him live.

    My favorite song of his (sort of) has always been a cover he did of Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.”

    • After a traumatic incident, it took me a long time to be able to listen to a whole Elton John song.
      No real interest in seeing Elton live (his tickets are more than I’m willing to pay), but he is incredibly talented.

  31. Did you go to Schnipper’s? Also, you might have found Waiting for Godot somewhat lacking in content, but you’ve got to admit, it’s a thrill seeing those two old stags on stage plying their trade. Not many get the chance. We’re lucky that way.

    • the burgers are good, thought they looked at me like I had 3 heads when I asked for bacon/bleu cheese.
      We were at the one on Lex. The chili cheese fries and the mac n cheese were also delicious.

      The crowd loved it when the two of them danced each other across the stage during the curtain call.

  32. Somewhere around 2002 my best friend dragged me to a Supertramp concert, general admission seating. All the way to the show we listened to our old fave tunes, and sang along as loudly and as falsely as I could. What can I say, I’m tone deaf. We got there and they played ZERO POINT ZERO of their old classics. They stuck ONE HUNDRED PERCENT to the new material nobody knew. Everybody was disappointed.

    I got stuck in the past. You’ve moved on… That is the moral of this story.

    p.s. I saw a picture of a guy surfing, is this you in NY?

  33. The song is a good choice though I must admit to liking it sung by Tom Jones, not that I am taking anything away from the great Joe Cocker though my great friend, no not him, you :)

    I have enjoyed reading this one Guap :)
    I hope all those blizzards have gone…


  34. It seems like the best shows are always the ones you are least expecting to blow you away. Just like holidays are never as random ordinary days!

    • Yes! I’ve gone to shows because someone wanted the company, and ended up being blown away!
      (We’re starting to try and celebrate unbirthdays as holidays!)

  35. Thanks for the “Cocker Fest” (except for “Civilized Man” as it apparently won’t play in my country). His voice brings back a lot of memories including seeing him at a festival venue in the ’70s in Toronto.

  36. Ahh that’s a bit disappointing, I always thought I’d like to see Joe Cocker live.

  37. You Can Leave Your Hat On. . .one of my all-time favorite songs! And I have always wanted to re-enact the strip-tease to it from 9 1/2 Weeks! lol

  38. I have felt the same way when seeing “old” bands – something lacking. Good, but lacking. <3

  39. Don’t know how I missed this post – I’m going to blame it on an overfull email box. I love “You Can Leave Your Hat On!” I have actually always liked Joe Cocker & his gravelly voice – my kind of music.

Ahem *best Ricky Ricardo voice* Babble-OOOoooo!!!

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