Best of The B List: 10 Shows Played One Man Down

[Originally Published: July 22, 2010]

The phrase “the show must go on” originally referred to Broadway and show biz, but the cliché also rings true with live music. Considering we’re talking about rock stars playing demanding, high-energy music it’s no surprise that a number of instances of bands playing one man short have come up over the years. It’s actually more of a surprise that it doesn’t happen more often.

For this week’s B List we look at ten cases where acts we cover have performed without the services of one member. Some gigs were train wrecks while others wound up being great shows. Here’s what we came up with…

1. moe. – 07/09/2010 – Minus Al Schnier

This gig was the impetus for this list as Al Schnier was unable to perform at a recent moe. gig in Peoria, but his band mates went ahead with the show and delivered a solid performance heavy on Chuck and Rob songs. moe. offered fans refunds, but we bet there weren’t many takers.

Set One: Bullet> Awesome Gary> Billy Goat> Timmy Tucker> Zed Nought Z, Buster
Set Two: Captain America> Blue Jeans Pizza> Sensory Deprivation Bank, McBain, All Roads Lead to Home, St. Augustine, Don’t Fuck With Flo> Plane Crash
Encore: Stranger Than Fiction

2. Umphrey’s McGee – 01/14/2010 – Minus Joel Cummins

In January (2010), Umphrey’s keyboardist Joel Cummins was unable to make the sextet’s tour opener in Flagstaff, AZ after a death in his family. Keyboards were set up in front of bassist Ryan Stasik and guitarists Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss, while percussionist Andy Farag cued samples of Cummins’ keyboard work and banter during the improv-heavy performance. UM has also performed a show without Bayliss in 2003 and without Farag in the past.

Set One: Resolution1, 2×2> Jimmy Stewart2 3> 2×2, The Crooked One4, Black Water

Set Two: In the Kitchen5> Made To Measure6> Jimmy Stewart6> Sociable Jimmy4 6> Professor Wormbog4 6> In the Kitchen3, In Bloom, Got Your Milk (Right Here)6
Encore: Mulche’s Odyssey

1 Aeroplane (Red Hot Chili Peppers) jam; with Brendan on keys
2 Lighting power outage
3 Jake on Keys
4 Unfinished
5 Bridgeless jam and Carol of the Bells tease
6 Jake and Brendan On Keys

3. The Who – 11/20/1973 – Minus Keith Moon

Back in 1973 at the Cow Palace near San Francisco, The Who’s Keith Moon supposedly took an animal tranquilizer leading the maniacal drummer to slump at his drum set during Won’t Get Fooled Again at the group’s tour opener. After trying to wake Moon and failing, Pete Townshend asked if anyone in the crowd could play drums. Nineteen-year-old Scott Halpin answered Pete’s call and saved the show by turning in a decent performance behind the kit.

Set: I Can’t Explain, Summertime Blues, My Generation, I Am The Sea, The Real Me, The Punk And The Godfather, I’m One, Helpless Dancer, 5.15, Sea And Sand, Drowned, Bell Boy, Doctor Jimmy, Love Reign O’er Me, Won’t Get Fooled Again, Magic Bus, See Me Feel Me, Smokestack Lightning, Spoonful, Naked Eye

4. Allman Brothers Band – 07/31/1993 – Minus Dickey Betts

After Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts was arrested following a H.O.R.D.E. stop in Saratoga Springs, NY, the legendary southern rockers found themselves in a bind. Guitarist Warren Haynes asked Jimmy Herring to sit in on guitar at the next night’s show in Stowe, VT and Herring did a fantastic job filling in for the troubled axe man, whom he would later replace in 2000. Herring also came to the group’s rescue last October when Haynes couldn’t make it to a Panic/ABB co-bill gig in Charlotte.

Set: Statesboro Blues w/John Popper, harp, Stormy Monday w/Popper, All Night Train, You Don’t Love Me w/Popper, Temptation Is A Gun w/Popper, Dreams
Acoustic: Midnight Rider, Melissa
Electric: Southbound w/Popper, The Same Thing w/Danny Louis, What’s Done Is Done, Just Before The Bullets Fly w/Popper, Gambler’s Roll, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed w/Popper and Louis

Encore: Whipping Post

5. Phish – 07/30/1988 – Minus Jon Fishman

According to the show notes on the recently updated, Phish drummer Jon Fishman was unable to make it to The Roma in Telluride for the start of the group’s third of a seven-night run through Colorado immortalized as the Colorado ’88 release due to being “extremely high on a nearby mountain.” Fish’s band mates killed time waiting for the drummer by performing two sets referred to as “Jazz Odyssey.” Jon made it back in time for Set 3.

Set One: All Blues, Mr. P.C.

Set Two: Funky Bitch, Suzy Greenberg, She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride[1], Contact[1], Maiden Voyage, Corrina

6. The Beatles – 06/04/1964 – Minus Ringo Starr

When Beatles drummer Ringo Starr came down with a severe fever during the peak of Beatlemania as the band was set to embark on a tour of Scandinavia, Holland, the Far East and Australia, he was replaced by 24-year-old session drummer Jimmy Nichol for the shows. Nichol performed admirably until Starr was able to rejoin the tour in Australia on June 15. Jimmy was never able to parlay his 15 minutes of fame into lasting success.

Set: I  Want To Hold Your Hand, I Saw Her Standing There, You Can’t Do That, All My Loving, She Loves You, Till There Was You, Roll Over Beethoven, Can’t Buy Me Love, This Boy, Twist and Shout

7. Widespread Panic – 07/20/2007 – Minus Sunny

[Photo by Michael Weintrob via]

Widespread Panic percussionist Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz missed a few shows during the group’s 2007 Summer Tour to spend time with his family after his father passed away. While the band played without a percussionist on the first show Ortiz missed on July 20 at Radio City, they were joined by Steve Lopez and Wally Ingram at the following two shows before Sunny returned.

Set One: Pleas, Pigeons, Give, Old Neighborhood, Party At Your Mama’s House > Ribs And Whiskey, Don’t Wanna Lose You, Walk On, Conrad

Set Two: Thought Sausage, Wondering > Pilgrims, Blight > Second Skin, Protein Drink > Sewing Machine, Space Wrangler, Jack, Mr. Soul

Encore: Tall Boy
[Without Sunny]

8. Disco Biscuits – 03/19/2010 – Minus Jon Gutwillig

March 19 of this year will certainly be a date the Disco Biscuits and their fans will never forget. Guitarist Jon “Barber” Gutwillig injured his wrist in the early morning hours after a gig in Albany and would be unable to perform at that night’s show in Boston – he actually wound up not playing a bunch of shows – leading the band to call in RAQ’s Chris Michetti, among others, to fill Barber’s shoes. As if there wasn’t enough drama, the Boston gig – which was turned into a free show – ended early after…how should we put this…the heat came ’round & busted them for smiling on a cloudy day. Check out our live blog from that evening for a look at one of the craziest days in the history of any band.

Set One: Oname Wa, Park Avenue^, Orch Theme^, Tricycle^ > Uber Glue^, Mirrors^, Helicopters^^ > Gangster^^ > Helicopters^^

Set Two: Show Canceled due to “technical difficulties”

Without Jon Gutwillig

^ – w/ Chris Michetti on guitar, ^^ – w/ Michetti and Joey Zarick

9. Grateful Dead – 01/06/1978 – Minus Jerry Garcia’s Voice

[Photo by William E. Allen]

Just as the Grateful Dead were set to embark on a run of shows in January of 1978, singer/guitarist Jerry Garcia came down with a severe case of laryngitis. Though Garcia was able to play guitar – and admirably tried to sing at the first show – by the start of the second set of the run’s opener the group’s other singer/guitarist, Bob Weir, was called upon to sing every song. For the next two shows the Dead filled each setlist with Bobby songs. When Garcia was finally able to sing on January 10th, his voice was far from 100% as you can tell by listening to this recording.

Set One: Promised Land, Dire Wolf, Mama Tried, Big River, Loser, Looks Like Rain, Tennessee Jed, New Minglewood Blues, Deal, Lazy Lightnin’ > Supplication

Set Two: Playin’ in the Band, Estimated Prophet, Drums, The Other One, Truckin’

Encore: Johnny B. Goode

10. Oasis – August 23, 1996 – Without Liam Gallagher

Oasis was set to tape an acoustic performance for MTV’s Unplugged at the Royal Festival Hall when singer Liam Gallagher, suffering from either a sore throat or a bad case of I Hate My Brother-itis,  pulled out of the gig. Rather than cancel, the group decided to go on with the taping. Noel Gallagher took over lead vocals and did a great job.

Hello, Some Might Say, Live Forever, Listen Up, The Masterplan, Don’t Look Back In Anger, Talk Tonight, Morning Glory, Round Are Way, Cast No Shadow, Whatever, Wonderwall

Those are the 10 “one man down” performances we came up with. We know there are a ton of others. Let us know what we missed by leaving a comment below.

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7 Responses

  1. A) I’ll never forget Dickey throwing down his guitar at the end of that ugly Whipping Post at SPAC, the cops literally waiting on the side of the stage for him to finish.
    B) What’s the Ratdog show when Bobby got food poisoning and the band played on?

  2. I’d nominate 8/17-18/2002 as the “best panic one” and the one that should probably be at the top of this list. We’re not talking about someone being out with the flu, or gone for a few days…were talking about a band getting on stage a week after their best friend and band mate died. Not because they wanted to, but because HE wanted them to.

  3. Went to a Metallica show in Atlanta in 2000. Hetfield injured his back that day and was in the hospital. They were touring with Korn and Kid Rock at the time. Somehow between Kid rock, Jason Newsted, and Jonathan Davis singing they got through the set. It was awful. There are youtubes from that tour that back me up. Luckily they came back and did two shows at Lakewood with Hetfield that were rocking.

  4. Great list! Didn’t Warren Haynes fill in for Al (missed a plane I beleive) on a mid-2000’s Moe show?

    some other memorable ones

    A couple of great ABB shows from August 2005 w/ Jack Pearson filling in for Warren (sick) too.

    Zakk Wylde filling in for Dickey Betts 8/1/93

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