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The Concert Stage Blog

Welcome to the Concert Stage News page. Please send me an email at with any reviews, concert suggestions or website comments.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Liz Carroll and John Doyle at Ballydoyles

What a week it has been for seeing great musicians. First I had the opportunity to see Billy Joel and on Thursday evening I had the opportunity to see Liz Carroll and John Doyle perform at Ballydoyles. They are true artists in the way their fiddle and guitar intermix. It is absolutely amazing and indescribable. I would highly recommend seeing them in person and picking up any of their music you can on CD.

I went to the show with my friend Jim and I think one of the highlights for him was seeing two of his favorite performers sharing the stage with a few members of the Trinity Irish Dancers. Jim's daughter has become quite the dancer with Trinity over the last couple of years.

We did have a chance to meet Liz and John after the show and they were very gracious and are great ambassadors for Celtic music. The two live performance pictures below were taken by Jim at Milwaukee Irish Fest this past August.

John DoyleLiz Carroll
Jim and John DoylePat and John Doyle
Jim and Liz CarrollPat and Liz Carroll

Liz Carroll -
John Doyle -

Monday, December 03, 2007

Billy Joel in Concert

Billy Joel Concert PosterI had the opportunity to see Billy Joel in concert on Saturday evening at the Sears Centre for the first time in over twenty years. The question I am asking myself is why did I wait so long to see him again. Billy Joel is a true showman who puts on a first class show. From the awesome set list to the first rate light show this was truly a fabulous show. Billy performed his hits while including some spectacular keyboard work (Root Beer Rag was fantastic). He even managed to sprinkle in some great seasonal songs. Below is the set list I found on one of the many tribute websites for the Piano Man.

Visit Billy Joel online at

Billy Joel Set List - December 1, 2007 at the Sears Centre
Prelude/Angry Young Man
Jingle Bells
My Life
Everybody Loves You Now
The Entertainer
New York State of Mind
Root Beer Rag
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
Christmas In Fallujah
Keeping The Faith
Stand By Me
An Innocent Man
Don't Ask Me Why
She's Always A Woman
The River of Dreams
We Didn't Start The Fire
Big Shot
It's Still Rock and Roll To Me
You May Be Right
Gloria In Excelsis Deo
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
Joy To The World
Only The Good Die Young
Silent Night
Piano Man

Friday, September 14, 2007

REO Speedwagon at the House of Blues

Ticket Stub for REOI have never seen a band in so many different types of venues as I have seen REO Speedwagon this year. I have seen them perform in a television studio, theater, stadium, festival and even a Wal-Mart between the automotive and gardening sections. Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to see them in a bar setting or a large bar setting. They did a charity show for the Bear Necessities Pediatric Foundation sponsored by WLUP radio at the Chicago House of Blues.

We had dinner at the House of Blues dining room which afforded us with the opportunity to have entry into the concert hall prior to other ticket holders. This allowed us to watch the show from right in front of the stage. Since it was a general admission show the only problem we had were with what I like to call the 5to9ers or people who wait to right before the show to try to wedge their way up front or REO set listpush from the back.

The show was awesome with REO playing their hits and some of the new music from their recently released CD. Being so close they were playing at times two to three feet away from us and we were literally making eye contact with the band. I think the highlight for my brother was high-fiving Kevin Cronin during Roll With the Changes.

REO Speedwagon fan John Pat sent along a copy of the set list he was given after the show that Kevin Cronin used during the show.

REO Speedwagon -
Bear Necessities Pediatric Foundation -
WLUP Radio -

Friday, September 07, 2007

In order to promote the release of Bob Dylan's Greatest Song album a new website has been created where you can add text to the classic Dylan video "Subterranean Homesick Blues". It is a nicely designed and a real clever promotional tool. Check it out at

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Flash Point

I have added a new section to for the different flash slideshows I have created called the Flash Point. Be sure to check it out

Irish Fest Pictures

I have added a couple of galleries of Leahy and the Elders from Friday night at Irish Fest. With the steady rain on Saturday I did not even attempt to take any pictures.

LeahyThe Elders
LeahyThe Elders
Leahy -
The Elders -

Monday, August 20, 2007

Milwaukee Irish Fest - Saturday, August 18th

Irish FestThe key word for Saturday at Irish Fest was rain. The rain had me looking for the exhibit of Noah and his workshop.

The day started out with trying to see parts of as many bands as possible and visit the Irish cultural exhibits and not so cultural exhibits at the fest. When I first arrived at the festival for the day I got to see part of a set by traditional folk Irish players' Mick Moloney and Michelle Mulchany with an added bonus of John Doyle sitting in for the set. After listening to some of this great music I checked out the exhibits including seeing some Irish wolfhounds and my favorite dogs the Irish Setters. I also had the opportunity to check out some co-ed tug of war action in the mud.

Before my planned viewing of the Enter the Haggis show I got to see bit of the Trinity Irish Dancers show. They were amazing and troopers for performing in the rain. By the time Enter the Haggis took stage it was pouring rain and my camera was replaced by an umbrella. Enter the Haggis delivered despite the rain blowing directly at them as they performed on the stage closest to the lake.

As the rain picked up I decided to see a couple of bands playing in the smaller tents and it was sure worth it. I was able to see a bit more of Liz Carroll and John Doyle, as well as the Ladies of Longford. I am real glad I took the time to watch a full set of Liadan. Liadan is a band made up of ladies from Galway, Limerick and Dublin, who play a combination of traditional and modern music. Their instrumentals are only topped by their vocals.

After being thoroughly entertained by Liadan I decided to venture out of the comforts of the entertainment tents back into the rain to see Leahy on one of the main stages. As I arrived I was informed by one of the many rain soaked volunteers that the show was canceled. This being totally understandable and kind of expected I decided to hit one of the smaller tents to see Millish. You know a band is good when you see other musicians in the room and this tent was justifiably filled with other musicians appearing at the fest. I only got to see about half an hour of the set and plan on definitely catching Millish when they appear in the area in the future.

As I entered the rain again my plan was to briefly stop and watch the late starting Gaelic Storm play before heading home. It only made sense that Gaelic Storm was the only band to play on a main stage in the rain since they did play while the ship was sinking in the movie Titanic. Since I was already wet I decided to stay for the whole show that went on past the closing time of the festival. I think Gaelic Storm might be considered the Jimmy Buffett of Celtic bands. This party band was having such a good time they started to run and do dives along the wet stage.

Milwaukee Irish Fest - Friday, August 17th

Irish Fest logoThe annual festival of all things Irish took place this weekend with great food, music and where everyone looks like they could be related to me. This is the annual Milwaukee Irish Fest.

Friday was your typical Irish Fest evening - which is always fantastic. My good friend Jim and I drove up with the intention of seeing the full Leahy set and part of as many other acts as possible. We were not disappointed by the other bands we were able to see in our limited time before the Leahy show. We had the opportunity to see part of sets by Liz Carroll and John Doyle playing together on the Celtic Roots Stage and the Wisconsin based family band Leahy's Luck playing on the McGouthy's Tipperary Stage. One of the highlights of the evening was seeing Jim stopped in his tracks by the guitar playing of John Doyle.

Leahy delivered as they always do. I have seen Leahy many times over the years and am always struck by the different reactions of seeing them at Irish Fest as compared to in a theatre. In the theatre venues the crowds are appreciative - but somewhat reserved. At Irish Fest the crowds are just as appreciative - but a lot more demonstrative. The Irish of Milwaukee really know how to show their appreciation. After Leahy we had the chance to again see Kansas City's the Elders. This is one fun band that you get more of an appreciation for when they are not confined by the small stage of bars like Ballydoyles.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

REO Speedwagon on Soundstage

REOI had the opportunity to attend the PBS television taping of Soundstage last night in Chicago. My brother (the biggest REO fan I know) won some tickets for the event and I forced him to take me along as his guest. Had he gone with his first wish of taking one of the attractive young ladies he knows he would have been sitting real close. They were picking out the pretty people and sticking them up front and putting people who look like me in the back. This was not all that bad of a thing. Sitting in the back was only about twenty feet away from the stage and allowed a great vantage point. I was able to witness first hand how they filmed this show in high definition. Having designed a website for Steve Herrlin, a Director of Photography, it was interesting seeing the equipment he uses on a regular basis being operated. I can just imagine Steve doing this outside a controlled studio setting.

The show was simply awesome with phenomenal lighting and the best sound I have ever heard at a concert. They had to do a couple of film changes and this allowed for some humorous banter between Kevin Cronin and the audience. Highlights of the show included the spot on vocals of Cronin, blistering guitar work of Dave Amato and some phenomenal drum playing by Bryan Hitt. As always, I really like the classics and they delivered with a fiery version of Golden Country and Bruce Hall's Back on the Road Again.

I had a moment that I can only equate to being at a baseball game and you get a chance to catch a foul ball. I am just glad it did not turn into a Bartman moment. After Kevin Cronin finished singing Don't Let Him Go I saw him toss his guitar pick into the audience. Now this was no simple toss, this pick was flung with the authority of a thirty year rock and roll veteran. As I sat there, I sensed that the pick was being pitched in my general direction and then everything went into slow motion. As the pick was tossed I saw it flip three times in mid-air and I knew just at that moment by calculating the vertical velocity and spin factor that it was definitely coming my way. I was prepared as I got my footing to do battle with the nearby middle aged housewives and classic rock fans with their receding hairlines fronting their eighties mullets. At that split moment I lost visual contact as the hurling piece of compressed polypropylene was lost in the illuminating stage lighting. I could only do one thing when faced with this situation and that was to close my eyes since I did not want to get my eye poked out. As I closed my eyes I prepared for the masses to fling their bodies at the pick as if they were 19 years old and entering their first punk rock mosh pit. Then, the reality of the situation occurred to me, these 30 and 40 something adults either also lost the pick in the lights or did not care to risk life or limb for a five cent mini-Frisbee. I felt something hit my leg and fall to the ground. I exerted the necessary energy to bend down and pick up this rock and roll memorabilia and put it in my pocket. REO picks In an act of unselfishness, that would have never occurred in the 1980s, I gave the guitar pick to my brother in commemoration of his thirtieth REO Speedwagon concert. I know this story does not equate to the scrum that developed in pursuit of the 756 home run ball of Barry Bonds, however, this story will be told like every great fishing story.

Set List:
Find Your Own Way Home
Take It On The Run
Keep Pushin'
I Needed to Fall
Tough Guys
Can't Fight This Feeling
Dangerous Combination
Back on the Road Again
Smilin' in the End
Time For Me to Fly
Don't Let Him Go
Keep on Loving You
Roll With the Changes
Ridin' the Storm Out
157 Riverside Avenue
Golden Country
Music Man
In My Dreams

REO Speedwagon -
Soundstage -

Friday, July 20, 2007

Jumping Jack Bash

Jumping Jack Bash I took my 15 year old nephew to the Jumping Jack Bash yesterday sponsored by WJMK. The show was held at Toyota Park in Bridgeview. The stadium also doubles as a soccer stadium and holds about 25,000 people. I thought the place would be crowded given the list of bands performing. However, the show start time of 4:30 pm and the original ticket prices might have kept a few fans away. I would estimate that maybe a third of the seats were occupied. While it is nice to be able to stretch your legs out it did give the place a cavernous feel. It was also very windy and probably one of the coldest July days in recent history.

I grew up listening to these bands and was looking forward to seeing them with my nephew who is the age that I was when started to listen to most of them. The show started with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. I did not know what to expect and was blown away by the band. This lady can really rock and I hope to see her sometime at a smaller venue.

The second band to perform was the Stray Cats. This was the first show for the band in 15 years and they did not miss a beat. I have continued to listen to Brian Setzer's music over the years and look forward to hearing more music in the future.

The middle band to perform was the Pretenders. Of all the bands that performed their music translated the least in a stadium type show. Despite continuous guitar problems and Chrissie Hynde's complaint about a McDonald's sign, that she had covered up behind the stage, the band played an hour set under the large Toyota Park sign.

The final two bands to perform were a couple bands I grew up listening to during the height of their popularity. REO Speedwagon was definitely on their game with their leader and hometown boy Kevin Cronin. REO was also the one band my nephew came to see and I am glad to report that he really liked the show.

Closing out the show was ZZ Top who I first saw live back in 1986. They have a really fine tuned blues rock sound that has aged like a fine wine. These Texas boys can sure rock.

REO Speedwagon -
ZZ Top -
Pretenders -
Stray Cats -
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts -

Monday, June 18, 2007

Enter the Haggis at the Illinois Saint Andrew Society Highland Games and Scottish Festival

Highland Games flyer
I had the opportunity to attend the 21st Annual Illinois Saint Andrew Society Highland Games and Scottish Festival on Friday evening with my brother Pete and friend Jim. Not only did we get to see some caber tossing (watch out where you stand) and rugby, we saw Enter the Haggis perform. Enter the Haggis again provided their brand of Celtic rock that their building fan base has come to enjoy.

We had the opportunity to meet Brian and James from the band before the show. James told a few funny stories about life on the road.

The Cicadas were special guests at this year's festival. They seem to only appear every 17 years in this area.

Be sure to check out some of the pictures from the show.

Enter the Haggis -
Illinois Saint Andrew Society -

Thursday, May 24, 2007

E-Newsletter now Online

The inaugural E-Newsletter from is now available to be viewed online. The May issue highlights the Winter concerts I attended and some website improvements. If you are not registered for the E-Newsletter and would like to see what you are missing you can do so by clicking here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

REO Speedwagon at the Rosemont Theatre

REO FlyerI had the opportunity to see REO Speedwagon for ninth time over the last twenty some years last night at the Rosemont Theatre. The show was put on by Chicago radio station the Drive (WDRV FM 97.1) to celebrate their sixth anniversary. The Ides of March opened the show and besides some unfortunate Spinaltapish moments put on a good show. REO put on yet another first class performance. REO showcased some of their new songs and played all the hits the fans have come to expect. Highlight for me included playing the classic songs "Golden Country" and "Back on the Road Again".

REO Speedwagon -
The Ides of March -

Monday, April 16, 2007

Enter The Haggis at Ballydoyle Irish Pub

On Friday the Thirteenth I had the opportunity again to see Enter the Haggis. This was the second time I have seen them at this bar and it was three times as crowded this time since it was a Friday evening. They put on a great show and I look forward to seeing them again the next time they have a show in the Chicago area. My friend Jim sent along a few pictures that I have posted below. Thanks Jim

Enter the HaggisEnter the Haggis
Enter the HaggisEnter the Haggis
Enter the Haggis
Ballydoyle Irish Pub

Friday, April 06, 2007

REO Speedwagon Part 2

My friend Jim sent me a copy of a brief article that appeared in the Daily Herald and a scanned copy of his autographed CD. Thanks Jim.

REO newspaper article

Thursday, April 05, 2007

REO Speedwagon at Wal-Mart

Kevin Cronin and Bruce Hall of REO Speedwagon did a mini-concert at the Elk Grove Village Wal-Mart yesterday. This was a bit surreal for me having grown up in the same town with a brother who listened to REO 24/7. They performed for about 30 minutes doing the classics including 157 Riverside Avenue. After their performance they signed copies of their new CD for about 300 fans. Be sure to check out the gallery.

Visit REO online at
REO Flyer

Kevin Cronin of REO

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Natalie MacMaster at the Hemmens

I had a chance to see Natalie MacMaster again tonight. This time she performed at the Hemmens Cultural Center for the Arts in Elgin. Natalie and her excellent band had another fine show. A highlight of the show was the Volcanic Jig from her new album Yours Truly. Her fiddling and step dancing was as good as it gets - not bad for a lady who is six months pregnant. The seats were not bad either - front row center.

Natalie MacMaster flyer
Visit Natalie online at
Natalie MacMaster flyer

Friday, March 09, 2007

Website Flash Introduction

Have you ever gone to a website and waited for an eternity for the Flash introduction to end? You finally click the skip link and it seems to cause time to stand still. Well - I have created one of these slide shows. The good thing is I have not made it mandatory viewing every time someone visits the website. Click here if you are interested in seeing this cinematic masterpiece.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Leahy at the Raue Center For The Arts

Leahy I was able to see Leahy for the second time in three days at the Raue Center in Crystal Lake. They once again put on a tremendous show. Highlights of the show included Erin Leahy's phenomenal piano playing and chilling vocals on "I Want You To Know" and "Moment". I really think she could put out an awesome solo album in any style of music. Both Donnell and Angus were fantastic on fiddle picking up any slack in the absence of their brother Doug.

I really appreciate the graciousness that they showed at the after show meet and greet to my niece and my cousins who were seeing them for the first time. A special thanks goes out to Maria for taking the time out to write a personal autograph to my friend Jim who could not attend this show.

I look forward to seeing them again next Summer at Irish Fest in Milwaukee.

Visit Leahy online at

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Leahy at the Auditorium Theatre

LeahyMy good friend Jim and I attended the Leahy concert at the historical Auditorium Theatre in Chicago yesterday evening. The theatre was designed by famed architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler and is historical for the many shows it has hosted since it opened in 1889. To me the theatre is the historical spot where I graduated from Roosevelt University's Graduate School of Public Administration.

Both Jim and I are into double figures for the amount of times we have seen this fine band from Ontario, Canada. They are definitely a band that you have to see in concert to truly appreciate. We had a chance to say hello after the show and they are as gracious as they are talented. Here is a picture of each of us with Maria who plays guitar and step-dances.

Visit Leahy online at

Jim and Maria LeahyPat and Maria Leahy

Monday, February 26, 2007

Grand Dérangement in Concert

Grand DerangementI went to see the French Canadian band Grand Dérangement with my good Friend's Jim and Karen yesterday at the McAninch Art Center on the campus of the College of DuPage. Grand Dérangement is from the Saint Mary's Bay area of Southwestern Nova Scotia. They are a combination of folk, Celtic and rock music combined with apects of traditional Acadian culture. I hope they appear in this area again soon at a festival where I can get some pictures of them in concert. We were fortunate to get a few pictures at the meet and greet after the show. I highly recommend them seeing them in concert.

Visit Grand Dérangement on the web at

Grand DerangementGrand Derangement
Grand DerangementGrand Derangement
Grand DerangementGrand Derangement

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I have finally had the time to update this website and register the domain name - I have had some requests that I add more details about the shows that I attend and will try to do this since I will be seeing four concerts in the next few weeks. I will be seeing Grand Dérangement for the first time tomorrow and Natalie MacMaster in a couple weeks. In between these shows I will also be seeing Leahy a couple of times. They are the band that really introduced me to fiddle/Celtic music during the last decade.