[ATTENDED: January 15, 2016] Blue Öyster Cult
I first got into Blue Öyster Cult in 1981 with “Burnin’ for You” (yep, I knew that before “Don’t Fear the Reaper”). Fire of Unknown Origin was my favorite album for years. When I got to college, I met my friend Nick when I drew the Blue Öyster Cult logo on my notebook and he saw it. And then I found out that my neighbor Glen was the biggest Blue Öyster Cult fan, possibly ever.
He has seen them play a bunch of times, but for some reason I never went. And that is my one major regret after seeing them–I wish I had seen them before when the whole band was together and when they were 20 years younger. For while they did not disappoint, they weren’t quite up to the standards I had imagined.
The week before the show I listened to their whole catalog and imagined an ideal setlist–deep cuts and weird songs. But honestly, they could have played any of their songs and it would have been great.
And I loved that they played a sampling of songs from throughout their career.
“The Red and the Black” opened the show and it was awesome. I was intrigued that they played the fast part in the middle a little different–(leaving out the fast notes, but that seems to be typical of the last few years) nevertheless, it still rocked and it was definitely BÖC. We also got to see the big three-guitar moment. Back in the heyday, they did a thing called 5 guitars, were all 5 members would strap on a guitar and jam jam jam. This was as close as we’d get to that.
Then I was delighted when Eric Bloom introduced us to the “Golden Age of Leather” and they sang the a capella intro. It also had a super long guitar solo section
And then they launched into “Burnin’ for You” and it was awesome (especially when guitarist Richie Castellano played the choral voices on the keyboards).
Speaking of the guitarists. In addition to Eric Bloom who played stun guitar, keyboards and sang, Donald “Buck Dharma” Rosier, the legend himself, was there to play lead and sing. He actually sang many more songs than Eric (who, in olden days was more of the leader). The guy standing next to me pointed this out and thought it was really strange that it was such a Buck-centric showcase. It also made me realize that the setlist tended a bit more poppy, since Buck’s songs are usually the more poppy ones.
Also on guitar was Richie Castellano who has been with them for nearly a decade. He started as the band’s bassist, which amazes me because his guitar soloing was amazing. In fact, although his style of soloing is very different from Buck’s, it nearly blew away the legend himself. Richie played some super fast showoffy solos. And in their dueling guitar section, even though Buck’s solo was amazing, Richie’s was pretty spellbinding. But then Buck came in and showed him that you don’t have to be super fast to be super good.
On bass was Danny Miranda. Miranda played with them for a number of years a few years back and then joined them again for this tour. And he was perfect. On drums was Jules Radino, and he was also really good.
Next up was the rocking “Career of Evil” and I was really psyched to hear that. I had forgotten that Patti Smith wrote the lyrics for that song. It was followed by “Shooting Shark,” another Patti Smith song. “Shooting Shark” was a total surprise to me, although I see that it has consistently part of their set for the last decade or so. I am honestly surprised that the song never became a hit because it is insanely catchy and really poppy.
It’s also funny to me that they played that song from one of their least popular records (The Revolution by Night) and followed it with a song from their other least popular album Mirrors. It was “The Vigil” which I really like. It was cool hearing them do the “come to Us” chant at the end.
They returned to rocking out with “ME 262” which was awesome live. I only wish they had the dropping bombs sound like on the record, but instead Buck played a guitar solo that sounded like an explosion–it was really loud!.
Another poppy song (which should also have been a hit) was “Dancin’ in the Ruins.” It was a nice surprise. Then they jumped back to their debut with “Then Came the Last Days of May” which was long with big time soloing in it. The guy next to me said, when the song was announced, “that song is aweeeesome.”
Eric Bloom had been pretty quite for much of the show. I missed his afro, but at least he still had the beard. He actually sat and played keyboards for a number of songs. At one point he kind of limped over to his guitar and that’s when I realized that he is 71 years old. So it’s understandable that he’s not the cocky young performer from 1977. But his voice sounded great through all the songs. And he got us all pumped up for what came next–“Godzilla” which was as big and loud as it should have been.
This is where the guitar solo duel came in. It’s credited as “Buck’s Boogie” although that is an actual song and this wasn’t that song. Rather, it was just an amazing guitar solo. Buck is 68 and his guitar playing hasn’t flagged at all. And neither has his voice, which sounded amazing all the way through.
Then Eric introduced the next song as tribute to Lemmy and David Bowie. Buck started playing “Ziggy Stardust” and then launched into “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” Which of course got the crowd on its feet (and it sounded amazing). I am fairly certain there was no cowbell–that he played the cowbell part on the bell of his cymbal instead. Here’s a clip from instagram of part of the song.
Once the song ended, the band left the stage and people poured out of the theater, which was pretty strange as, of course the band would do an encore. And frankly, it’s not that hard to get out of a small club in Montclair–it’s not like you are going to be in traffic or anything. Not to mention it was only 11. But whatever, everyone was old.
And they all missed out on the awesome encore of “Dominance and Submission.” This is a great rocking song, with lots of vocal parts. And Eric Bloom got the whole crowd to shout “Dominance” at appropriate times. It was a stellar way to end the show.
So perhaps I had built up seeing BÖC a little too high 9everyone who has ever seen them has told me they are amazing live–including the guy who was walking out the door at the same time as me who said the show was fucking amazing). I was slightly disappointed because they didn’t play all 45 songs that I wanted to hear. (Honestly, I could have used more songs and shorter solos). And yet, the show was still amazing. It was great to finally see the legends live and to see that they can still bring the rock even after 40 years.
My only real gripe is that it was so dark in the theater that good photos were really hard to get. I didn’t even get a good shot of Eric’s stun guitar. Bleagh.
For ease of searching, I include: Blue Oyster Cult.
|The Red & the Black|
|The Golden Age of Leather|
|Burnin’ for You
|Career of Evil
|Dancin’ in the Ruins|
|Then Came the Last Days of May|
|(Don’t Fear) The Reaper|
|Dominance and Submission|