blue oyster cult 40th anniversary

Left to right: Buck Dharma, Jules Radino, Joe Bouchard, Richie Castellano
Albert Bouchard, Kait, *me*, Eric Bloom, Kasim Sulton

click picture for the full-sized version

The setup: via car, train, and taxi–my friend Kait and I made our way to Times Square in Manhattan on Monday night to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Blue Oyster Cult. We even arrived at the venue early enough to pop in across the street to Carmine’s for a light supper (baked clams or portobello mushrooms parmesan) and a drink (single malt scotch neat or bourbon on the rocks).

I had a family event that conflicted with the original date for the concert, but Hurricane Sandy caused the concert date to be moved back by a week. I found out that tickets were available for the new date just a few days before the show, when Eric Bloom posted about it on his facebook page. I scrambled for someone to come with me–I was nervous about going down to Manhattan by myself. My friend Kait agreed to come, even though we’d only met previously via email while negotiating about her new maine coon kitten.

I’ve written about Blue Oyster Cult before–they’ve been my favorite band since I first saw then live at the Nassau Coliseum in the early 1980s.

This show was special for two reasons–it was the band’s fortieth anniversary, and Columbia Record’s was releasing a boxed set of 16 CDs/1 DVD of all the Blue Oyster Cult recordings on their label. To join in the fun, the original five band members were planning on playing together again . . .

They got the band back together. Sweet.

Through dumb luck, and the fact that I wanted the box set, I ended up with VIP tickets. What did the VIP tix include? The box set, fourth row seats, a commemorative poster signed by the band, and a quick “Hi”/photo op With. The. Band. Before the show. Photographic evidence above (as Amanda Palmer would say “Pictures or it didn’t happen”). Totally worth it. Eric even liked my hat.

The band entered the stage to the theme from the HBO series Game of Thrones (these guys are so cool–they are geeks like us!). They were dressed mostly in black, a bit more formal than usual–maybe a holdover from last week’s show in Port Washington? Or maybe they discovered that they liked the more elegant look. Not too cookie-cutter, though–and Jules (the drummer) was wearing a black vest over a gray t-shirt. He usually sweats up a storm over the course of the show. Buck looked understated in a black shirt, Eric was in a black leather jacket, Richie in a black blazer and black pants that laced-up the sides (nice!), and Kasim in a black-on-black blazer that looked like burnout velvet–I’ll take that, please.

Richie (as usual) was so energetic that I got tired just watching him. He was bounding all over the stage. Buck played countless short solos, all excellent–I could listen to him all day. About six songs in, Richie’s jacket came off, and he and Buck both did great guiter work on “Then Came the Last Days of May.”

Bruce Kapler (from Paul Shaffer’s band) played sax on “Shooting Shark,” and he added real dimension to the song. Kasim was exuberant as hell here, too. The bass work on ME262 and Godzilla were also outstanding.

Eric was in a talkative mood again, sharing tidbits of the band’s history. Apparently, this was the first time they’ve played “Death Valley Nights” live. Albert Bouchard came out to sing it, and he really got into it, although he did slip a little on the words to one of the verses–despite that, awesome.

The week before was the best performance of “In Thee” I had ever heard. This concert, they played it again with the song’s writer Allan Lanier performing with the band, and managed to do even better. One of the evenings high points.

The return of the old lineup to play a few old songs was nothing short of magical. By that part of the evening, I was “in the zone”–totally entranced by the whole experience. They ended the night with everyone (old and new) performing “Reaper”–with Albert on the drums, Andy Ascolese on the tambourine and *both* Jules and Kasim banging away on cowbells.

Truly a magical night to remember. The concert of the century.

Kait and I are now best friends for life.

Set List:
[Musicians: Eric Bloom, Buck Dharma, Richie Castellano, Jules Radino, Kasim Sulton] – current BOC lineup
This Ain’t the Summer of Love (Agents of Fortune)
Golden Age of Leather (Spectres)
Burnin’ for You (Fire of Unknown Origin)
Harvest Moon
ME262 (Secret Treaties)
Then Came the Last Days of May (Blue Oyster Cult)
Lips in the Hills (Cultosaurus Erectus)
Shooting Shark (The Revolution by Night) [guest sax player Bruce Kapler]
Godzilla (Spectres)
I Love the Night (Spectres)
***the next several numbers are acoustic***
[Musicians: Eric Bloom, Buck Dharma, Richie Castellano, Jules Radino, Kasim Sulton, percussionist Andy Ascolese]
Harvester of Eyes (Secret Treaties)
Astronomy (Secret Treaties)
Gil Blanco County (Soft White Underbelly St. Cecilia)
Death Valley Nights (Spectres) [guest vocalist: Albert Bouchard]
In Thee (Mirrors) [guest: Allan Lanier]
***end of acoustic***
Summa Cum Laude (from the movie Teachers)
~~~I think this is the end of the first set–my notes are unclear~~~
Arthur Comics (Soft White Underbelly St. Cecilia)
Black Blade (Cultosaurus Erectus)
[Musicians: Eric Bloom, Buck Dharma, Allan Lanier, Albert Bouchard, Joe Bouchard] – original BOC lineup
OD’d on Life Itself (Tyranny and Mutation)
Career of Evil (Secret Treaties)
The Red and the Black (Tyranny and Mutation)
[Musicians: Eric Bloom, Buck Dharma, Richie Castellano, Jules Radino, Kasim Sulton , Allan Lanier, Albert Bouchard, Joe Bouchard, Andy Ascolese ] – everybody past and present
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper (Agents of Fortune)

best buy theater marquee
Best Buy Theater Marquee
buck dharma
Buck Dharma
richie castellano
Richie Castellano
eric bloom
Eric Bloom
allan lanier
Allan Lanier
kasim sulton
Kasim Sulton
bruce kapler
Bruce Kapler
jules radino~albert bouchard
Jules Radino & Albert Bouchard
Albert Bouchard
Albert Bouchard