Music, Stories told

Rock shows

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.

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32 thoughts on “Rock shows

  1. ryoko861 says:

    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.

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  2. Dani says:

    Hmmm….
    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

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  3. Joel says:

    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.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Let’s see what I can remember:
    B.J. Thomas
    Carpenters
    Richie Havens
    Guess Who
    Mountain
    Ed McMahon (seriously)
    Steve Martin
    Chicago twice
    Kansas
    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.

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      • Neil says:

        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.

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    • Neil says:

      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.

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  5. 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 !!

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  6. Mark says:

    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:

    http://www.iorr.org/tour03/toronto.htm

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  7. 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!

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  8. Lone Primate says:

    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. :)

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      • Lone Primate says:

        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! :)

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        • “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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