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Blue Öyster Cult - Ocean City, NJ Monday August 18th 2008

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Blue Öyster Cult

Music Pier, Ocean City, NJ - 08-18-2008

Veteran rockers give solid performance; concert nearly ruined by screeching pre-teen

by: Dave Alburger

It's become an annual tradition to plan my summer vacation around a trip to see the Allman Brothers, somewhere

near where my grandmother lives in New Jersey. This year was no exception. When a show in Camden was the first date announced on the Allman's 2008 summer tour, I promptly scooped up some tickets.

I arranged my vacation to visit my grandmother, do some camping, and spend a few days on the Jersey Shore before catching the

Allman Brothers (with Ratdog opening!) on our last night before returning home.

A few weeks before I was to leave on the trip, my brother mentioned "Dickey Betts is playing in Ocean City,

while you're down there, you should see him". Great! Seeing both Dickey and the Allmans in the same week would

make for a complete vacation!

The next day I hit the interweb and searched for the Dickey tickeys. Hmmm... doesn't seem to be listed on

his website, so I checked Pollstar. Sure enough, he was slated in at the Ocean City Music Pier on Monday August 18th.

Googled the music pier, went to their site and had a look at the concert calendar. Clicked on the Dickey Betts link,

and was directed to their ticket website, but strangely the information displayed was for Blue Öyster Cult

at the Ocean City Music Pier on Monday August 18th. BÖC was one of my favourite bands when I was a teenager -

I wanted to go! Tickets (only $44/pair) were ordered!

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I later found out the Dickey cancelled several dates in August for some reason.

OK - back to BÖC! The only time I've seen them before was in 1982 at the Ottawa Civic Centre. "Burning For You" was

a hit FM-radio single the year previous, and they had just released their third live album in 8 years. Well known for

songs such as "Godzilla" and "Don't Fear the Reaper", they were at the peak of their popularity at the time.

ocmp sign

Photo by: Dave Alburger

We arrived in Ocean City, a popular summer vacation spot, on the New Jersey coast the afternoon of the 18th.

The place was overrun by tourists. Strangely enough, Ocean City is "dry", meaning not a drop of alcohol is sold

within city limits, and has not been since 1884! After riding a ferris wheel, walking the boardwalk, then having a bite to eat, my girlfriend

and I headed to the Music Pier and took our second-row seats just as BÖC took the stage.

"I'm not Dickey Betts" frontman Eric Bloom announced as the band ripped into "This Ain't The Summer of Love".

That's when a loud piercing nails-on-chalkboard scream struck my eardrums. I turned around to see a girl, probably

about 11 years old, really getting into the concert. She was screeching like it was 1964 and the Beatles

had just taken the stage on the Ed Sullivan show.

The band continued with "Before The Kiss A Redcap" before getting into the familiar "Burning For You". The crowd,

which I estimated at about 500, applauded and cheered eagerly, with the girl behind me

screaming annoyingly with every song. I was surprised when they played "The Red and the Black", their tribute

to the RCMP!

Some reviewers have dubbed the band "Two Öyster Cult", since only two original members remain - Guitarist/singer and bandleader Eric Bloom and guitarist/singer Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser. Gone are guitarist/keyboardist

Allen Lanier, and the rhythm section made up of the Bouchard brothers (no, not those Bouchard brothers!)

but Joe and Albert.

Bloom and Roeser wrote and sang the bulk of Blue Öyster Cult's songs. Now in their 60s, both are excellent musicians

and performed enthusiastically. Bloom, in particular was very entertaining with

his sense of humour and his band introductions. And what a band it was - on bass was Rudy Sarzo, perhaps best known

for his stint with Quiet Riot in their "Metal Health" days. He's also played with Ozzy and Whitesnake. Filling in

on drums this evening was Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow, Black Sabbath). BÖC's regular drummer Jules Radino was taking

some time off while his wife was having a baby. Rounding up the lineup was Richie Castellano on keyboards and guitar.

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Photo by: Dave Alburger

"Shooting Shark", a tune co-written by Roeser and Patti Smith, followed. The funky bass-driven song was originally

recorded with current American Idol judge Randy Jackson slapping the bass. Rudy Sarzo did a great job on this song and

showed his versatility. Other highlights included "Then Came The Last Days Of May" from their very first album, and the guitar-driven instrumental "Buck's Boogie". The

ear-piercing screams from directly behind me got louder with every song. I have to give the girl credit though, she did

know all of the words to "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll".

BÖC stuck to older material, for the most part from their first three albums. I liked this, many older bands would be promoting newer,

and often weaker, songs. By the time they ripped into "Godzilla" with Roeser's blistering leads,

I decided I had enough of my ears being permanently damaged by the screeching kid. You could have

drilled a high RPM dentist's drill into my temple and it would have been less painful. I turned around

and politely asked her to "give it a rest". The father yelled in my ear "Chill the fuck out dude". Great.

He's encouraging this behavior. I've been to hundreds of concerts, and have never experienced this before.

I decided to let it go.

Godzilla featured a "monster" bass solo from Sarzo, while the band played riffs from "Metal Health", "Still of the Night", "Crazy Train".

They also snuck in a riff from Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker". The band was obviously having a lot of fun and the crowd was too.

The song everyone was waiting for was of course "Don't Fear the Reaper", in my opinion one of the greatest

rock and roll songs of all time. Mocked several years ago in a Saturday Night Live skit featuring Christopher

Walken, the band seem to take all the cowbell jokes in stride. The cowbell on this song was (I think) being played

by a roadie off-stage! Roeser played fantastic lead guitar on this extended version.

The crowd went nuts as BÖC returned to the stage for their encore. They finished the evening the science-fiction fantasy based "Black Blade", another one of my favourites. We left the show satisfied,

as well as somewhat deaf.

Seeing a legendary band from the second row in such a small and unique venue was

a special treat.

ocmp sign

Photo by: Dave Alburger

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Did anybody here ever see the movie (it was really bad) "The Stoned Age"? That was my introduction to BOC. Infact, I cant even listen to Don't Fear the Reaper without ever thinking about that movie. Most would equate the cowbell sketch, but for me it'll always be that stupid movie.

Ha, yep.. The Stoned Age, the lower budget, more boobs, version of Dazed and Confused! (Surely worth a watch.) Don't Fear the Reaper has been one of my favourites since I was ten but that movie does always come to mind when I hear it. That snl sketch had me realize there was cowbell it in! :D

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