April 5, 1971
L. C. Walker Arena (attendance was 2,623) About 1/2 house filled.
Muskegan, Michigan, U.S.A
The Grand Rapids Press, Saturday April 10, 1971
Dan LaBaron On The Beat
Editor's Note: Record reviewer Dan LaBaron takes a week
off his regular turntable routine, and reports on the Monday evening Badfinger concert
It was a cold and depressing spring day. Little lumps of black, unmelted snow perched alongside the highway. To make matters worse, we still hadn't come up with one good reason for continuing our headlong spurt toward catastrophe (if that word adequately fits the situation).
Reed was sitting in the only bucket seat in his car and I said to him, "Yeah, I picked up this hitchhiker (that crazy drummer from the Phlegethon) and he told me that Badfinger was playing in Muskegan tonight. He was incredibly excited over the prospect of seeing them, and some of it rubbed off on me I guess."
By the time we were on the road, though, most of my enthusiasm had mysteriously disappeared. I mean, here I was on my way to another rock and roll concert-something I had made numerous vows to never experience again. But there we were, bopping along in Reed's little Spitfire with its eight-track portable pop festival blasting away. Who knows, maybe it will still be worth the hassle?
The sunset was red in front of us and clouds formed swirling patterns in the haze. Somehow, the effect was far from soothing. It reminded me of a horror movie in which kids are picked up, car and all, by a huge grotesque chimpanzee and slowly crushed between his long hairy fingers. Of course, all this happens before the hero can save them.
Well on to Muskegan. Upon arrival we were greeted by a speeding ambulance, a flashing fire truck and two police cars. As if that wasn't enough excitement, we didn't know how to get to the L. C. Walker Arena.
That didn't bother Reed.
"It's alright Danny boy. I know how to get us there. I was in a 'Battle of the Bands' here, about five years ago."
"Sure Reed," I said, "but let's just ask someone to make sure."
No, Reed was going to get us there, and only after finding ourselves totally lost and out on the extreme outskirts of Muskegan would he break down.. We asked at least three people before reaching any kind of logical understanding. Finally, we arrived back in the downtown area, past Walt Plant's Paint Shop, and almost ran into a sign that screamed out at us-"BADFINGER HERE TONIGHT-8 P.M."
So we bought our tickets, gave away the spare change and took our position in front of the stage. The confusion, people wandering about, see someone I hadn't seen in a very long time-it was all very unnerving.
"Boy," Reed said , "this is sure going to be loud. Look at that equipment! Let's move back a little and sit in the chairs, alright?"
I countered, "Look Reed, I want to see what's happening on stage. If you want to move, go-ahead. I'm staying here."
He left, so I sat and waited for the band. The disc jockeys kept assuring us that we wouldn't have to wait much longer. And so it went-on and on.
"Thirty minutes," the DJ screamed.
"Twenty minutes," he said, a half hour later.
"Pretty soon, kids he warned us. "But right now, lose yourself in this top-pop-bopper tune."
The struggle for sanity ended as the band appeared amidst a smattering of applause. Badfinger's main draw is that they sound a lot like The Beatles did when they were still The Beatles. Badfinger still had that groovy Liverpool accent and the harmonies sounded the same, but what happened to Ringo? Badfinger's drummer was just bashing away. It reminded me of someone working at a job that they seldom like and often deplore.
So it went. They tried to get the crowd clapping on one number (C'mon, you're all here to have a good time, aren't you?") Then, suddenly, they zipped into "No Matter What." The crowd was on its feet in seconds. Some where singing along, but everyone was clapping and looking like a bunch of different folks than a few seconds before.
I found Reed and we left through a side door. It was too much. We fled into a night that felt to much like winter to have any kind of liberating quality about it. On the way home, Reed kept telling me how crummy Badfinger was. I think he missed the point.
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