What’s the One Gig You Wish You’d Seen?

September 18, 2020 2 min read

What’s the One Gig You Wish You’d Seen?

What’s the one gig you wish you’d been to?

I love this question. It tells you a lot about a person’s musical taste and is often a lot more revealing than getting them to list their favorite band or favorite album.

There are a couple of pretty standard answers as well. Led Zeppelin at the L.A. Forum, Woodstock, The Stones at Madison Square Garden in ’69, Live Aid, The Beatles at the Cavern, the Beatles in Hamburg, the Beatles at Shea Stadium… everyone wishes they’d seen the Beatles basically.

My answer? The California Jam 1974. 

Cal Jam doesn’t get the same love as festivals like Monterey Pop or Woodstock. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t have the late ‘60s countercultural cred, happening a full five years after the summer of love reached its peak. Maybe it’s because it was staged to be filmed for television (as part of ABC’s legendary “In Concert” series).

Why do I love California Jam so much? It is because it established the record for the largest concert sound system ever assembled? Was it because it featured the first ever appearance of the Good Year blimp at a music festival? 

Rare Earth

Earth, Wind and Fire

The Eagles

Seals and Crofts

Black Oak Arkansas

Black Sabbath

Deep Purple

Emerson, Lake and Palmer


Just look at that line-up! If that isn’t an all killer, no filler line-up, I don’t know what is. Eight great acts, all playing at the top of their game; for that "$10 in advance or $15 at the gate" ticket price, you got your money’s worth. 

I’d quite happily have spent all day in the California sun (an abnormally warm day for April by all accounts) taking all of that in. But there’s one particular Cal Jam performance I’d have been front and centre for… 

Deep Purple.

I’ve spoken about my love of the Purps – especially the Mark III Purps – in this column before. And the Cal Jam might just be their finest hour. The band was on fire that day – quite literally when amishap with a pyrotechnic effect caused one of Ritchie Blackmore's amplifiers to explode – and gave what is quite possibly a career best performance. I’ve watched the ABC Concert broadcast so many times and I’ve worn out VHSs and DVDs in the process. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a masterclass in hard rock performance.  Watching it recorded is exhilarating enough, and I can only imagine what it must have been like in the flesh.


So that’s my pick. But what is yours? If you could have been to any one gig, what would it have been? More importantly, why do you wish you’d been there? Doesn’t matter if they’re legendary shows or local band gigs – we want to know about them. As always, share your stories in the comments!



Also in Fingerboard Stories

Are These the Greatest Rock Songs of the Century?
Are These the Greatest Rock Songs of the Century?

January 15, 2021 2 min read

After a while of reading and re-reading this list, I gave up trying to weigh up the merits and demerits of the selections and whether or not they truly were the “greatest.” Ultimately, it’s impossible to qualify that, given the subjectivity of these things. Besides, I loved so many of the songs on the list in equal measure, I found it way too difficult to rank them.
What is the greatest cover song of all time?
What is the greatest cover song of all time?

January 06, 2021 2 min read

Coming up with a great cover is an art in itself. Effectively, you’ve got to take a strong template established by someone else and rework it enough that your voice shines through, while retaining the integrity of the original piece. It certainly isn’t easy. When you think about it, there have been many, many cover versions released over the years, but only a minority of those can hold a candle to the original version.

Guitar Player Quotes to Live Your Life By
Guitar Player Quotes to Live Your Life By

December 17, 2020 2 min read

Playing the guitar is like telling the truth - you never have to worry about repeating the same [lie] if you told the truth. You don't have to pretend, or cover up. If someone asks you again, you don't have to think about it or worry about it because there it is. It's you.” – B.B. King