Readers share highlights from their favorite Bumbershoot performances. The Labor Day weekend festival kicks off Friday.
Bumbershoot has seen many amazing performances since the festival began in 1971. Earlier this week we reminisced about Soundgarden’s 1990 show at the Coliseum and asked readers to share their favorite Bumbershoot shows in anticipation of the festival beginning Friday.
Seattle Times music critic, Paul de Barros, wrote about 10 performances that stuck with him. Fan picks touched on a variety of different styles of music ranging from Miles Davis to Mudhoney.
Many of the reader responses will make any music geek jealous and motivated to catch future performances that will be talked about for years. Here are some of readers’ comments and emails, which have been lightly edited:
I can’t believe that you mentioned Roy Orbison from 1987 but left out Miles Davis the night before. I paid $4 for my entry ticket and saw Miles play what many of his fans called his last great set.
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Honorable mentions: David Byrne (1997), Elvis Costello playing a special late-night set in 1996 that didn’t end till about 1:30 a.m. Stevie Ray Vaughan with Bonnie Raitt opening in 1985. Little Feat played a show for the ages in 1988. A young Derek Trucks played the Mural Amphitheater around 2003. Buddy Guy in 1991 also at the Mural Amphitheater.
- Tom Navarre
Foo Fighters 1997. They were a newly formed band who played a great show, but the highlight was the Nirvana tribute that was still a fairly fresh, painful memory for Seattle. Krist Novoselic came on stage and played bass, Dave Grohl moved to the drums, Pat Smear on guitar, and the mic was left open. It started with just Smear and Grohl leading the crowd at Memorial Stadium in a little “Purple Rain” jam session, and then Grohl made his way to the drum kit, then Novoselic comes on stage and they jam with the mic left open, for what felt like a really cool moment at the time. Taylor Hawkins comes back out and relieves Dave on the drums, without missing a beat, and Dave attempts to finish up “Purple Rain,” followed by a roadie coming out and covering Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown.” Epic show.
- Ron Stuart
Richard Thompson, Aug. 31, 1990. This took place at night at the outdoor amphitheater under the Space Needle.
Richard (appearing solo) did all of his big hits at the time: “Valerie,” “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” “I Misunderstood,” “I Feel So Good,” “Wall of Death,” “Turning of the Tide” and more. He came back for three encores. But what made it most memorable was his third encore, “Tear-Stained Letter.” As he finished with the lines of the chorus,
“Cry, cry if it makes you feel better
Set it all down in a tear-stained letter
Oh, oh, oh
Cry, cry if it makes you feel better
Set it all down in a tear-stained letter.”
He left the stage, but the crowd of several thousand just kept singing the chorus. Richard never came back on stage, but the crowd just kept singing the chorus over and over for what seemed like 10 minutes. I will always remember what a great feeling that was to hear several thousand people singing the chorus over and over in tribute to this fine performer. I saw Richard a number of times at Bumbershoot since then and in Seattle over the years but will always remember that night especially.
- Jeff Demetrescu
George Thorogood and the Destroyers in 1986! It was a great show, the crowd was so into it. He was making a music video for one of his songs that night.
Spalding Gray played to a packed house in 2001. It was particularly poignant as he was telling the story of his trip to Ireland and an accident which left him in constant pain. He was a brilliant man, mesmerizing storyteller. But on that day the tragic story included him begging for any ideas, any help, in dealing with his pain. His audience became witnesses to the challenge of his life. He made us laugh, and he gave us everything he had. It broke a lot of hearts when he walked off a ferry in NYC, ending his life. I’m not sure if the Ireland story was ever filmed.
I fondly remember Jethro Tull in 1998. Ian Anderson was warm and friendly. The band was in sync. It felt like Jethro Tull were simply hanging out with old friends playing music. I’m old school and to see “The Pose” was quite a thrill.
That 1990 Soundgarden show was great. The Posies opened and were being booed heavily. They said to the crowd, “the more you boo, the longer we will play.”
- Supersonics fan
Frankly, there’s been too many fabulous shows at B-Shoot to count. Two stand out in my mind. First was Tina Turner, just before she broke out with “Private Dancer.” She played the Coliseum (remember that place?). She was just putting her career back together after leaving Ike. And she was just stunning. Unforgettable!
The next was the Eurythmics. The spring before they played the Paramount, and they were the breakout band of the moment … By the time they hit town for B-Shoot, they were the biggest act in the world. And they played like it. The memory of a young Annie Lennox strutting across stage in that Red Bra and singing her heart out. It was wonderful. Great memories.
1994 or ’95, Mel Torme on the big stage followed by … Mudhoney. Hilarious juxtaposition. Absolutely epic show started by “the Velvet Fog” a few years before he passed away and finished by an insane set by Mudhoney at the backside decline of the Seattle grunge scene.
Spinal Tap in 1984.
@Taxmaad I was there … they blew up the giant devil head, and we all got pelted with coins during “Give Me Money!” Great call! I am actually surprised more people are not mentioning that iconic, final concert by heavy metal’s greatest parody band.