Tag Archives: Covelli Centre

41 years, 9 months, 30 days


On Friday it was announced that Kiss would be coming to the Covelli Centre for a show on Aug. 26. If the show goes off as planned, it will mark the first show for the band in Youngstown since Oct. 27, 1974. That will be 41 years, nine months and 30 days since the last show in the city. I don’t know who keeps such records in rock ‘n’ roll, but that has to be in the discussion some sort of record for time between two performances in one city.

Another New York band with just two original members completed a 35-year, one-month and 23-day gap on July 29, 2011 when the New York Dolls did an opening gig for Poison and Motley Crue at the Covelli Centre. The Dolls had previously played Youngstown on June 6, 1976.

The Kiss show will be held one day after Gene Simmons celebrates his 67th birthday. Since Kiss is coming off a show in Toledo on Aug. 24, it’s a high possibility that Gene will be celebrating his birthday in Youngstown or somewhere nearby.

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Elton John fills Covelli to the rafters

Billed as the biggest act to visit here by some local pundits, Elton John’s performance on May 1, 2010 at the Covelli Centre had a lot of rock fans drooling over the potential of the 5-year-old arena to draw big name talent. While he’s clearly a huge name associated with rock, you can look over the list of shows on this site and see that Sir Elton fits comfortably among the many stars who have performed here over the years.

The demand for this show was clearly there as the concert sold out in less than five minutes in March. John, the old pro, fillled the setlist with plenty of hits and gave the people a show worthy of the high ticket prices paid.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: It was professionally recorded and made commercially available for sale after the show (mp3s, CDs). I don’t believe the option to purchase the show still exists, but someone has put the tracks on YouTube (one of the songs is posted above).


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Bob Dylan’s first time

It was revealed this week that Bob Dylan is coming to town for a show on August 28, 2012 at the Covelli Centre. This will not be his first go-around here though. On November 2, 1992, he played an acoustic show at Stambaugh Auditorium. Surprisingly it was a box office bomb as only 1,168 of 2,600 seats sold (I would hope Covelli’s management took that in mind when booking him at the arena). Dylan was supporting the Good as I Been to You album which was released a day after the performance in Youngstown. The 51-year-old played 18 songs in the two hour gig.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: A good sounding bootleg of the show was released in 1994 under the title Himself. Unfortunately recent copyright cyberlocker sweeps by the U.S. government have wiped out any places where the show can be downloaded.


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Maps of the stars

I’ve added a page dedicated to mapping where venues mentioned (or will be mentioned) in this blog. You can see the list on that page or you can just follow the link below.

Youngstown rock ‘n’ roll venues

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Welcome to our jungle

When you think about it, a lot of things had to happen for Guns N’ Roses to end up playing the Covelli Centre on December 7, 2011. GNR was one of the biggest rock acts in the world in the early ’90s. Despite a reputation for Axl’s pouting on stage and the band’s inability to keep a punctual schedule, they managed to play stadiums without much trouble at their peak. Even after losing key members Slash, Duff McKagan, Izzy Stradlin and Matt Sorum, the band was still able to perform in large arenas upon its return in 2001. It took nearly a decade of uneven performances and prima donna behavior by Axl to erode the fanbase enough that smaller arenas were popping up on the tour itinerary in 2011.

For all intents and purposes, the Covelli Centre show had every indication of being a debacle. This wasn’t like Elton John coming around in 2010. John could do a smaller tour because he was at a point in a career where the big gigs didn’t really matter that much. GNR probably couldn’t fill large arenas in Pittsburgh and Cleveland anymore was the sad reality. Going on at midnight will do that to your more seasoned fanbase.

At the start of the tour, a video surfaced of Axl Rose and the band playing to a large crowd in Brazil. Clad in a bright yellow raincoat, Rose looked more ridiculous than usual. The torrential rain made the band sound like a muddy mess. Arenas in the cities on the US tour leg were crossing their fingers just like in the past. A funny thing happened, though. The band became proficient in developing regular starting times (around 11 p.m.) and played consistently long sets without any flack or outbursts from Rose.

Most people had no idea who the new characters in the band were. When the lights went down and the activity on stage came alive that all changed. Clearly this was a professional outfit which was well rehearsed and ready to deliver a full album-like sound. The three-pronged guitar assault of Bumblefoot, DJ Ashba and Richard Fortis gave people in the crowd plenty to look at when they weren’t paying attention to Axl. Bass player Tommy Stinson gave a nod to his punk roots in The Replacements with a cover of the Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer”. There was even a nice little dig at Pearl Jam’s woeful attempts at covering the punk classic thrown in for good measure. Alas most in the crowd has no idea who the Dead Boys were or who the hell Stiv Bators was. Longtime member Dizzy Reed added the right accents on the keyboards and drummer Frank Ferrer was spot-on in his drumming abilities.

The most shocking thing was that Axl Rose actually looked like he was enjoying himself. There still was that aura of danger surrounding the band, but these men looked focused on the job. They weren’t in any hurry to bang a bus full of groupies or get the next hit of heroin. They sounded tight and went above and beyond what was expected of them nearly 25 years after they began. I must say as the night went on the band got better. I never understood the late start times before, but when it was after 1 a.m. and the band was chucking through “Night Train” it suddenly hit me that this stuff sounded way better at this hour.

Axl gave a quick nod to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the end of the show. Earlier in the day the band received word from the HOF that they would be inducted. It was a nice gesture, but at the same time you could feel the pressure of a reunion starting to build. On Saturday in Cleveland we will find out if something comes together. Seeing how the band operates now, I will say that Axl doesn’t need the hassles of playing with people he does not get along with. I think he may show up for the proceedings at the last minute (along with Dizzy Reed), but I also think he’s a man who would want some sort of rehearsal before attempting to play with guys he hasn’t shared the stage with in two decades. To me, he’s not even the biggest question mark. That would be Steven Adler. He has been a heartbeat away from drug overdose for quite some time now. I’m not even sure if he could handle a song or two under intense pressure. The old band has a right to worry about him making an absolute ass out of himself.

Stay tuned.

WHAT THE SHOW SOUNDED LIKE: YouTube has plenty of videos from it. There’s also an excellent fan audio recording of the show floating around. Check the fan message boards.

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Beautiful dolls

It was the end of the line for the band known as the New York Dolls when they limped into Youngstown for a show on June 6, 1976 at the Tomorrow Club. Having had a promising start to a career just a few years before, the band collapsed in 1975 due to drugs, internal conflicts and mismanagement by the late Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren.

On the ticket and in ads for the show, the band is referred to as the New York Dolls. In reality, original singer David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain were calling the band The Dolls by that point. It made sense too. The punky swagger that former lead guitarist Johnny Thunders and drummer Jerry Nolan brought to the band was absent in the new version of the band. The band, made up of Johansen, Sylvain, Pete Jordan on bass, Bobby Blaine on keyboards and Tony Machine on drums, probably played no songs off the first two classic New York Dolls studio albums. I could not locate a setlist for this show, but a show the next day in Cleveland was mainly made up of stuff that would grace Johansen’s 1978 solo debut album.

Johansen and Sylvain would return to Youngstown to play with the New York Dolls 35 years later when the group opened for Motley Crue and Poison on July 29, 2011 at the Covelli Centre. The group did play its well known hits that time, but it was not with the personnel which made for the outstanding run of reunion shows from 2004 to 2010. Notably missing that time were lead guitarist Steve Conte and bassist Sami Yaffa. They were replaced by the much older Earl Slick and Kenny Aaronson for the Poison/Crue tour.

WHAT DID THE SHOW SOUND LIKE: There’s not much recorded material available from this version of the Dolls, but there is a decent bootleg of the band from a May 21, 1976 show in NYC on Youtube.

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