I’m going to a rock concert tonight, my first in five years. I’m going to see heavy-metal patriarchs Iron Maiden, who are still rocking hard even though the band members are all in their 50s. Their music has evolved from straight-ahead metal to progressive rock, which means it’s grown up just as I have. So I’ve never stopped being a fan. I haven’t seen Maiden play live in twenty-four years, meaning I’m way, way overdue.

A long time ago I wrote this post about all the concerts I’ve been to. It seems appropriate to rerun it today.

Dokken must have had wicked hairspray bills.

Who have you seen in concert? Something the disk jockey said on the radio this morning started me thinking about the concerts I’ve been to. I was surprised that I couldn’t remember them all! It’s not like I’ve seen that many shows, and I certainly wasn’t smoking any dope at them to fog my memory. I wrote down what I could remember and Googled to fill in some blanks. You would not believe the detailed tour information people have cataloged on the Internet! I was shocked to learn that I’ve seen Dokken. Good Lord, shoot me now.

My first show was Al Stewart at the Westport Playhouse in St. Louis. You know, “Year of the Cat” and “Time Passages.” My second show was Iron Maiden at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. You know, “The Number of the Beast.” Talk about a change of pace! The Iron Maiden show was so loud that my ears rang for three days. I’ll never forget the newspaper review the next morning: “About as subtle as a baseball bat to the forehead. But to these kids, all zonked to the rafters on Clearasil and beer, it was probably poetry.” It was.

The best performance I’ve seen was Eric Clapton on his 1994 blues tour. His guitar work was as skilled as you’d expect, but it was also unexpectedly emotional. The best show I’ve seen is, believe it or not, Ozzy Osbourne. He may have only three functioning brain cells, but he sure knows how to work his audience. It’s hard to call the worst show I’ve seen, but Ringo Starr and Van Halen totally phoned in their performances, and Metallica was badly off their game when I saw them play in the rain in 1994.

I’ve seen Iron Maiden, Rush, and Eric Clapton twice; Metallica and Heart four times. I’ve seen Paul McCartney, my favorite, just once and wish I could have seen him again and again. But last time he toured, tickets were outrageously expensive and I just wouldn’t pay it.

Here’s the list I’ve pieced together, in chronological order. Headliners are listed first. You’ll see that I gravitated toward heavy-metal shows, and then gave up on concerts altogether for nine years while I was busy with my young family.

1986: Al Stewart

1987: Iron Maiden, Waysted | Eric Clapton, The Robert Cray Band | Heart, Mr. Mister

1988: Iron Maiden, Anthrax | Van Halen, Scorpions, Dokken, Metallica, Kingdom Come | Metallica, The Cult | Grim Reaper, Armored Saint

1989: Helloween and two bands I forget

1990: Motley Crue, Whitesnake | Paul McCartney | Rush, Mr. Big

1992: Ozzy Osbourne, Slaughter

1993: Heart | Aerosmith, Jackyl

1994: Rush, Primus | Metallica | Ringo Starr | Eric Clapton

1995: Megadeth, Korn, Flotsam and Jetsam, Fear Factory

1997: Metallica

2006: Heart

2007: Heart, Head East

I’m sure I’m still overlooking a band or two. But now tell me who you’ve seen! Leave a comment, or blog about it and link back here.

I got to meet the members of Heart once. Read that story.


32 responses to “Rock shows”

  1. ryoko861 Avatar

    Wow, you’ve seen ALOT!
    I’ve seen Marshal Tucker and .38 Special. That’s it. My parents weren’t exactly lenient with me.
    Two years (or was it a year ago) I saw MUSE. The four of us that went were probably the oldest people there.
    I’m surprised you see AC/DC.

    1. ryoko861 Avatar

      I mean’t to say “didn’t see AC/DC”.

    2. Jim Avatar

      I never was much of an AC/DC fan. I didn’t start seeing concerts until I was in college and I could decide for myself whether to go; before that, my parents would have put the kibosh on it, period.

  2. Dani Avatar

    1977 – The Keane Brothers, Anson Williams (yeah, Potsie)
    1988 – John Mellencamp
    1988 – James Taylor
    1989 – Rod Stewart; Rolling Stones (hummed Sympathy for the Devil for days)
    1990 – Sting (not impressed)
    1991 – Rod Stewart
    2002 – John Mayer
    2006 – Violent Femmes (dream come true!)
    2007 – Yo La Tengo; Third Day; Switchfoot

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’d like to see James Taylor someday.

      1. Dani Avatar

        He gave a great concert but it was difficult to make out his mumblings in the microphone.

  3. davidvanilla Avatar

    You have seen the elephant, and a whole lot more. I’ve accepted your invitation and the link and the list will be posted Friday on “String Too Short to Tie.”

    1. Jim Avatar


  4. Joel Avatar

    Great idea, Jim. I started making a list, and it quickly got out of hand – seeing live music was a big hobby for years. I was also surprised by how many I had forgotten. A few highlights: Smashing Pumpkins @ Cabaret Metro on New Years Eve 1991 – SO much energy in the room that night. Seeing Neko Case in an almost- empty Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas (there were 3 other indie shows in town that night – guess I was the only one to pick hers). We were at First Avenue almost every week during my time in Mnpls, but seeing The Time in 97 was a treat. A few musical heroes like Jules Shear, Matthew Sweet, and the Replacements. And some amazing shows at Bumbershoot in Seattle, like Sleater-Kinney. I also caught Yo La Tengo in a small club in Baltimore called the 8X10 in 1993, which I can only describe as “magical”. When I saw them again at First Ave 4 years later, it was not the same.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I think that if I had it to do over again, Joel, I’d’ve gone to see more breaking bands in small venues, like you did.

      1. Joel Avatar

        It’s not too late! :-) Especially with your boys growing up, if they’re music fans like you are.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Let’s see what I can remember:
    B.J. Thomas
    Richie Havens
    Guess Who
    Ed McMahon (seriously)
    Steve Martin
    Chicago twice
    Moody Blues twice (Morris Civic Center/South Bend best venue ever/best show ever)
    Darryl Worley
    Mark Wills
    LeeAnn Womack
    Paul McCartney twice (Another vote for best show ever)
    Seems like there were more, but I have no memory of them now.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I love the Morris Civic too; that’s where I saw Heart in 2006. I’m jealous that you got to see the Carpenters.

      1. Neil Avatar

        We saw the Carpenters at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago. It was TERRIFIC! I remember it as a small theater, but it’s not; we were about 20 rows back. Tickets were probably about $12. Goodbye to Love was always one of my best air guitar solos.
        I still hope to see Heart. They must have been great at the Morris.
        And I just remembered another one to add to the list . . . Elton John at the Amphitheater in Chicago in about 1972. Outstanding energy.

  6. Scott Palmer Avatar

    Very impressive! My list is much shorter: Clapton, Violent Femmes, Elvis Costello, Aerosmith.

    Does a Glenn Miller tribute band count? :-)

    1. Jim Avatar

      It all counts! I forgot to mention up there that I saw Henry Lee Summer play on campus at Rose-Hulman while I was a student.

    2. Neil Avatar

      Having read Clapton’s autobiography, I have a much deeper appreciation for the man. I would love to see him. And if I can add Ed McMahon, you can surely add the Glenn Miller tribute band.

  7. Face Avatar

    That’s an impressive list!

    No one comes to India and the local music scene here is quite forgettable. :-|

    1. Jim Avatar

      That’s a shame — I’m sure there are plenty of rock fans in India!

  8. Bernie Kasper Avatar

    Great list Jim…my twelve year son is a huge fan of classic rock, The Who is going to be at the Yum Center in Louisville in Feb and he is begging me to take him, looks like some bribes are coming this way lol !!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Ha! My sons are McCartney fans like their old dad.

      1. Bernie Kasper Avatar

        He loves the Beatles and Stones..BTW you should see my IPOD bills !!

  9. Mark Avatar

    Too many to mention. But the 2003 Sarsstock concert in Toronto surely takes the cake, for many reasons. One stage, 450,000 people, 10 hours of the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Rush, The Guess Who, Blue Rodeo …….. I went to the washroom once in ten hours, and it took me an hour to get there. Go here and scroll down, you’ll see why:


    1. Jim Avatar

      Holy cow! I don’t think I could have handled a crowd that large.

    2. Lone Primate Avatar
      Lone Primate

      Dayyyum! I wish I’d seen THAT show. I like everybody on that list!

      I haven’t seen “Various Bands” in ages, though. Are they still touring? :)

  10. kodakkerouacs Avatar

    I haven’t got a long list, but the only one who matters on it is Jackson Browne. I had the fortune to see him in California, and as fate would have it I’m getting to see him again in Durham this Sunday!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Nothing like a repeat experience! That’s why I’ve seen some bands three and four times.

  11. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    Kinda weird. I read this yesterday; meanwhile a friend of mine put me onto a local FM station for us oldersters who remember the music of the 90s (sigh), and what came on this morning on the way in but Magic Man by Heart. Interesting thing is I’ve heard a thousand references to the song (esp. on Mystery Science Theater 3000) but I’d heard the song itself. Now, bang… I’m that much closer to the Heart. :) It just strikes me a little weird I could go all this time never having heard the song, and ages can go by between Heart songs for me, but it all comes together just after I read about your rock show exploits. I like when that happens. :)

    1. Lone Primate Avatar
      Lone Primate

      …that is to say, “I’d NEVER heard the song itself”. Sheeeeeeesh.

    2. Jim Avatar

      How did you have a 1970s kidhood without hearing Magic Man on the radio? My mind boggles!!!

      1. Lone Primate Avatar
        Lone Primate

        Everybody around me was listening to the adult contemporary stuff. I heard a lot of Perry Como, Roger Whittaker, and stuff from late 60s/early 70s musicals, with the Beatles thrown in (so huge they were utterly unavoidable, thank goodness, till at least 1975 or so). I spent years trying to track down a very late Big Band-esque song from back then called “Oh Babe, What Would You Say?” by Hurricane Smith (hey, he sang it on The Tonight Show! Who knew?). At some point, I hopped onto the disco train. Meanwhile, you guys were rocking out. I didn’t make the leap to rock till the school Christmas party in 1980…ironically, via “Rock Lobster” by the B-52s, a dance band just the rock side of disco. :) But I do remember “Dreamboat Annie” from back then at least! :)

        1. Jim Avatar

          “Oh Babe, What Would You Say” has a Beatles connection. Norman “Hurricane” Smith was an engineer on early Beatles albums. When Smith’s song charted, he got a nice congratulatory telegram from John Lennon!

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