Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thoughts about a raucous Leon Russell concert

In November 1971, Leon Russell and Freddie King performed at a large warehouse like concert hall just outside of Amsterdam.  The space was full but not jam packed, moving closer to the stage was possible, no seats, and the concrete floor was sticky with spilled beer. The concert is remembered as being exceptional.

Russell's band was the complete deal with a horn section, female back-up singers, and multiple musicians.  Freddie did a Chicago blues set with his tight band, Leon did a set in which he at times just sat solo at a piano and sang, and then the whole gang came together and played for hours, what seemed like forever. Girls in the audience were jumping on stage and dancing with band members, especially Russell, and at one point a beautiful girl of those times was at the front of the stage spinning around and he put his finger on her head while she spun, she seemingly oblivious and he laughing hysterically.  It was a party on a stage.

Being in the audience did not have that level of frenzy, but everyone was moving and smiling. What a good memory to have on this day.

As we were leaving at about 1 in the morning, two girls asked if we would drive them to suburban Haarlem, which was somewhere a drive away, and my two friends said we needed to get back to the city where our hostel was.  My preference was to continue the night, and still wonder what further adventure would have been in store.  It would easily have been better, as in the traffic leaving the parking lot my friend Dickie rear ended another car which temporarily delayed us --- minimal damage to our already heavily dinged long term rental car and no one hurt, or at least could feel no pain.

What a great performer and musician he was, lucky to have seen him in his day.


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