I'd met Spoerndle several times over the years, though I had far more interaction with Brian Phelps this past quarter of a century or so. Ya know, I'll never forget when I read on the sleeve of Billy Joel's "Songs From The Attic" LP "recorded at Toad's Place/New Haven." It blew my mind. (I think it was "Summer, Highland Falls." Either that or "Los Angelenos.")
A dozen or so years later I would be standing outside the club on a beautiful summer night, its door ajar, catching glimpses of Mick Jagger performing inside. The Rolling Stones' surprise performance on Aug. 12, 1989, is now the stuff of legend. Don't forget: Toad's is/was "where the legends play." Bob Dylan played for six hours on Jan. 12, 1990. Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, U2, REM, and Bon Jovi all performed there. My brother caught the U2 performance and said it was so raucous they actually performed one song twice, the crowd clamoring for it (I believe it was "I Will Follow"), and I, sadly, missed Bon Jovi kicking off their "Keep The Faith" tour there, despite my best efforts.
But what shows did I see?
1.) Meat Loaf Long before there was even the thought of a "Bat Out Of Hell II" the CT resident took to that tiny stage one March night in 1989 and totally delivered.
2.) The Ramones Toad's was on a roll around this time (approx '90/'91), and even if you're not the biggest fan in the world you don't pass up singing along with these punk rock masters, "bah bah bah bah bah bah bah bah, I wanna be sedated!"
3.) Cheap Trick Opening with "Magical Mystery Tour," Zander's vocals were top notch and they tore through hits like "Surrender," "I Want You To Want Me," "Dream Police," and more. SO good.
4.) Julian Lennon May seem silly, but leaning on the stage while John Lennon's doppelganger son sang plaintively off his "Photograph Smile" record was as surreal as it was sublime.
5.) Blind Melon The band's front man would pass away suddenly just a short time later, and in the meantime they were gearing up to tour behind a follow-up record that was actually pretty darn strong, a bit of a departure, and were great live.
6.) Rick Springfield Back after a 10-year hiatus the "Jessie's Girl" rocker was presently surprised to find so many women waiting for him there, and would never look back at clubs from that point on.
7.) Fight Judas Priest front man Rob Halford took his side project to Toad's and destroyed the sold-out joint. "Crazy," in particular, was just that: Crazy.
8.) Marillion "Misplaced Childhood" was personal fave of mine, and once lead singer Fish left the band I figured seeing them live would never happen. Enter new lead singer Steve Hogarth, a new CD ("Season's End"), and a show I somehow still feel like I am at.
9.) Dio C'mon, whaddaya want me to say? It was Dio. Fantastic!
10.) Paul Stanley The KISS co-founder rolled into town with the band Warrant ("Cherry Pie," "Heaven") in tow, and the roof somehow remained intact.
There were others still: Marc Cohn, Kris Kristofferson, Deer Tick, Afghan Whigs, Mr. Big, Winger, T'Pau, Third Eye Blind, and so, so many more......