I do not yet have a firm date, for this performance, but the show had to have happened on either on December 7, 1985, or April 12, 1986. Once again, my notes were not as thorough as they should have been, but I am leaning on this being the winter date, as best I can recall [until I check another source or two – not at hand, at present]. Clarification will follow…

Thanks to Jim – see the Comments Section below – the date of the show has now been confirmed [EDIT – March, 2019].

The 10,000 Maniacs had already generated quite a bit of interest on college radio stations, such as KALX-FM, in Berkeley, by the time they appeared at the Berkeley Square, due to their independent releases from years prior, and the recently released “The Wishing Chair”, on Elektra Records.

My own curiosity had been aroused, partly due to hearing the record, but I gave it extra attention because of Joe Boyd‘s name, as producer, on this, and many other releases that I already owned and listened to, in my record collection; bands such as Fairport Convention, the Incredible String Band, Nick Drake, and the original Pink Floyd, amongst others, had already had his guiding hands as a considerable influence on bringing their talents to light, so when he became active again, in the 80’s, and especially his involvement with R.E.M.’s “Fables of the Reconstruction”, it was simply a matter of making sure I took the time to really listen to this band’s release, to see why they had impressed his tastes enough to take on the producer’s mantle with this new group.




Once more, I found myself covering this show for BAM Magazine, in my free-lance role, and all the happier to do so. Arriving early, and setting up in my preferred position at the lip of the stage, I was prepared for the usual low-lit stage, with a flash, but also took several photographs with the available lighting.  The results were more or less satisfying; especially those of Natalie Merchant, under the spotlit area, at the center of the stage.


Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant eyes closed singing clo
Natalie Merchant, very early in the set
Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant singing in overcoat ver


Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant hands raised in overcoa
Natalie Merchant lets her hair down, early on

Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant pulls cloth into a knot
Natalie Merchant tugs on her hair band
Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant clutching cloth horizon
Natalie Merchant sings while John Lombardo plays the 12-string in the shadows
Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant clutching cloth and sin
Natalie Merchant with John Lombardo in the background

While it was a somewhat crowded stage for so many musicians, there was still plenty of room for Ms. Merchant’s spins and dances.



Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant raises her skirt & Denn
Ms. Merchant with Dennis Drew on accordian
Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant all hair & Steve Gustaf
Ms. Merchant sings while John Gustafson switches over to guitar


Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant leans into the mic & Jo
Natalie Merchant & John Lombardo
Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant tugs on her hair no 2 [


Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant hands touching at finge


Michael Conen - [PROOF] Rob Buck, Steve Gustafson & Jerry August
Rob Buck, John Gustafson & Jerry Augustyniak of 10,000 Maniacs
Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant arms raised and singing




Michael Conen - [PROOF] Rob Buck & Steve Gustafson vertical full
Rob Buck & John Gustafson
Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant, Jerry Augustyniak & De
Jerry Augustyniak on drums, Natalie Merchant & Dennis Drew on accordian
Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant, Jerry Augustyniak & De
Jerry Augustyniak on drums, Natalie Merchant & Dennis Drew on accordian
Michael Conen - [PROOF] Rob Buck, John Lombardo on bass & Jerry
Rob Buck, John Lombardo on bass & Jerry Augustyniak on drums

It would not be long after this tour, that the band would be moving into much bigger venues, and enjoying a great deal more popularity and a higher profile, thanks to appearances on mainstream television, such as the following performances:

Trouble Me + Eat for Two [live USTV]

Eat for Two & Poison in the Well [live on USTV]

Few and Far Between [live on USTV 1992]

Stockton Gala Days [live on USTV 1993]

Hey Jack Kerouac + interview + Eat for Two [live on UKTV]

Few and Far Between [live on USTV 1992]

Not long after this particular tour [pictured here, and above], John Lombardo would leave the band, and form the duo ‘John and Mary‘, and continue songwriting and collaborations, until rejoining the reformed Maniacs, quite some time after Natalie Merchant departed for her solo career.

John Lombardo – Wikipedia entry



Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant palms open [10,000 Mani

Natalie Merchant enjoyed considerable success with a solo career, before taking a step back for some years.  A bit on that can be read about, here:

Natalie Merchant retrospective – Stereogum article

An early performance, while still with the 10,000 Maniacs, which features Ms. Merchant singing simply with a piano accompaniment:

Linden Lea [live]


Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant holding mic, eyes close


Michael Conen - [PROOF] Natalie Merchant hands on hips horizonta
10,000 Maniacs Berkeley Square Berkeley, California

More reading material on live appearances which feature Natalie Merchant, including with the 10,000 Maniacs, can be found here:

Natalie Merchant concert dates


More, on the career of the 10,000 Maniacs:

Ten Thousand Maniacs – Wikepedia discography entry


As always, constructive criticism or questions are welcome. You can contact me at michaelconen@tutanota.com if you’d rather not leave a comment on this page.


While many of you who arrive here, to look at these photographs may get turned off to my use of watermarks [thinking they ruin the image], let me explain why I choose to do this.

No one paid for my camera equipment but me. No one paid for the film I used to take these photographs.  On occasion, when I free-lanced for a free monthly newsletter, and they published a photo of mine, the payment for each photograph barely paid for the fuel to get my vehicle to the show [when I *did* have a vehicle], and the film I used on that night. 

Not too many of my photos were published, at the time, because the artists I chose to capture images of, were not hugely popular then.  Hence, the old dictum, “Supply and Demand”; I had the supply, but the demand [pre-Internet], was not there. You can argue the relative merits of the quality of my work, and that is precisely what a blog offers:  a venue for discussion.

Back to the watermarks: no one is subsidizing my time to scan and then clean up the images I am presenting here. Start to finish, each negative will take approximately an hour-and-a-half to reach “proof” quality – which is what you will see here.  This is my labor of love, and until there is some measurable return on my efforts, what you see is what you get.