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Rock shows

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 hair-metal band Dokken. Good Lord, shoot me now.

Megadeth in 2021

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 on the 1992 tour that was supposed to be his last, but wasn’t. 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 Heart six times, Iron Maiden and Metallica five, and Anthrax three. Rush, Megadeth, Lamb of God, Eric Clapton, and Pokey LaFarge had me in their audience twice. I’ve seen Paul McCartney, my all-time favorite, just once and wish I could have seen him again and again. But last few times 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. And then when my kids were older and my time was more my own, I saw Heart a bunch of times, and a couple indie bands I found on YouTube — but mostly I went to heavy metal shows. It’s funny, because I was far more a metalhead in the 80s than I am today. But so many of the metal bands I loved back when are still touring, and when they come around I want to see them!

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: Anthrax, Exodus, Helloween

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

2012: Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper

2013: Pokey LaFarge | Heart, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience

2014: Heart

2015: Pokey LaFarge

2016: Iron Maiden, The Raven Age | Lake Street Dive, The Brother Brothers

2017: Iron Maiden

2018: Anthrax, Killswitch Engage, Havok

2019: Metallica | Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax, Behemoth, Testament

2021: Megadeth, Lamb of God, Trivium, Hatebreed

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.

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52 thoughts on “Rock shows

  1. James P Cavanaugh says:

    Wow, this is an impressive list, one that I cannot begin to touch. But then with my unusual musical tastes, I’m not surprised that my list is skimpy.

    I will have to put more thought into this, but my big accomplishment was seeing Count Basie 3 different times between about 1977 and 1984.

  2. Andy Umbo says:

    Ha Ha, “one of these things is not like the other”, how did Pokey LaFarge get in that list!

    I was also thinking about this subject the other day, and what’s amazing is every few hours or so, I remember someone I forgot I saw at all! Saw the usual like Led Zep, MC5, Moody Blues, when I was in high-school, but by college we were all into “art” rock like Bowie and Lou Reed (I’ve probably seen Bowie more than anyone, all in his different “eras”) I did see Bruce Springsteen very early in his career in one of the most high energy shows I’ve ever seen. I started to roll into jazz when American rock music got so horribly “insipid” like Fleetwood Mack, and just loud “hair bands” with huge stadium shows; nothing for me there.

    As for jazz, probably saw Pat Metheny more than anyone, multiple times. When it came to crossover, I was gifted by chance to see the great Joni Mitchell on her late 70’s tour where her band was Pat Metheny, Lyle Mayes, drummer Don Alias, and the incomparable bassist Jaco Pastorius! What a moment history! Also saw an exceptional show with sax man Sonny Rollins. Too many to remember, the list would be too long.

    J.P. I envy you seeing Count Basie, what a great thing! I always envied my buddy who got to see Cab Calloway before he died, for some reason, we were heavy into Cab before he ever showed up in the Blues Brothers film (1980), and used to listen to him in college (early 70’s).

  3. DougD says:

    Wow, that’s a pretty metal-intensive selection Jim! I haven’t seen too many concerts, since I have hearing loss I was advised to limit concert going, and echo-y stadiums make loud music sound like noise to me. Oh well.

    But in my highschool & college days I saw Kim Mitchell 6 or 7 times, you may have heard of him as the Patio Lanterns or Go For Soda guy, but before that he was in a much harder band called Max Webster and in the late 80’s it was those songs he played in concert. We went with a group of friends whenever he played in our area, saw opening local bands like Teenage Head and Helix. Fun times.

    I’ve also seen Pat Metheny, the Tragically Hip, and the Who on their 1989 Farewell Tour. Boy did that turn out to be a misnomer!

    I once dropped my sister off for a Grateful Dead concert. Now I regret not going myself. I also regret not seeing Tom Petty live..

  4. Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney at Sun Devil Stadium, Electric Light Orchestra, Donna Summer, KISS, Aerosmith, Merle Haggard, Spice Girls (took my kids!), Faith Hill before she got famous, Heart, Martina McBride, Elvis Presley, Boston, The Judds, Elton John outside at The Saratoga Performing Arts Center-live broadcast of The King Biscuit Flour Hour, Trisha Yearwood, The B-52s, The Who at Jack Murphy Stadium, Frank Sinatra at Lee Iaocca’s retirement party-UNLV Arena, Linda Ronstadt at Cornell University, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Alison Krauss…more that I cannot remember. I have not been to a concert since the early 2000s.

  5. Neither my wife nor I particularly enjoy rock music. Our one and only rock concert was The Doors at The Fillmore East in 1968, and that only because friends had extra tickets and invited us. We were used to the atmosphere and sound levels at small jazz clubs and found the sound level at the Fillmore impossibly loud. “Never again” were her words as we were leaving, and I only knew that’s what she said because I read her lips.

      • Andy Umbo says:

        When I saw Joe Jackson in Washington DC in the early ‘aughts’, after a lot of years of seeing jazz only, I was happy to be able to buy foam earplugs at the venue store, right next to the posters and CD’s! That was an improvement.

  6. tbm3fan says:

    Too many to list from the 70s but I can tell you who was definitely first. second, and last. First was Iron Butterfly playing at my high school in early 1968 when a freshman. Second, was The Moody Blues when a junior, in 1970, since I could now drive. Last concert was Stevie Wonder in 1984 (?) at the Cow Palace, by invitation, from a woman I was dating.

    • tbm3fan says:

      The cool thing about it back then was that there was no Ticketmaster yet. One simply walked up to the window at the downtown Civic Center, for someone like Elton John or Neil Diamond, or the Sports Arena for something like CCR, CSN&Y, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Moody Blues. Very little in the way of lines. Just looked at the seating chart, picked, and paid.

      • I remember those days. I started seeing shows at the tail end of that era. Ticketmaster existed and you could use it, usually by going to Osco Drug or your record store and standing in line there. But if the box office were convenient to you you just did that.

      • Andy Umbo says:

        You said it! I doubt I would ever see “large venue” music any more because of the fees jacked on to the ticket by all the ticket services. Just recently heard a pretty disparaging take down of these people on an NPR show a few weeks ago: criminals and pirates! I always just bought at the ticket office in the old days. I remember Led Zep being 13 dollars (you can guess how long ago that was), and even Ricki Lee Jones with Lyle Lovett in the early 90’s being only 35 bucks.

  7. I rarely go to concerts. Usually the prices are steep and then once you get there the experience tends to be exhausting for me. If it’s outdoors, you have people smoking cigarettes and weed, which gives me a headache. If it’s indoors, you generally still have people drinking and behaving obnoxiously.

  8. matt says:

    My list isn’t so impressive. I’ve seen Megadeth a couple of times; I’ve seen Trans-Siberian Orchestra a few times. Stomp was an interesting show, but doesn’t count as ‘rock’. In that category as well, I took my kiddo to see Lindsey Stirling and the 2 Cellos. My wife and I drove to Utah to see the Piano Guys.

    But I was big into the local Rock Scene for a few years and was at most of the shows at a local venue.

    I’d love to see David Gilmour live or Eric Johnson live. I’m also a big fan of Greg Koch — all three of them have phenomenal guitar technique.

      • matt says:

        If you get a chance, I’d highly recommend Beethoven’s Last Night. They don’t do it very often, and the last time they did I think Omaha or something was as far west/the closest to me the tour went. But that one’s among my favorite albums and it’s by far the best TSO album.

  9. arhphotographic says:

    Milton Keynes, England 1982 – John Martyn, the Blues Band and Talk Talk, Genesis With Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett all in one day 😊

  10. Darts and Letters says:

    Cool, you got some Rush shows in there! Rush is my 14 year olds favorite band, for awhile it was all he was listening to ,haha! I’ve only ever gone to shows for more local bands, no legendary rock bands like your list. I’m not into heavy mental but I cannot deny your list is pretty awesome!

  11. Yikes. This would require some work. Hands down my best concert was BB King at his club in Memphis. I see Pokey Lafarge made your list. I saw him do an acoustic show at the Astra in Jasper. That was spectacular.

    There have been a few that weren’t amazing concerts but they are legendary performers like Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones.

    Hmm. A few other favorites include Jason Isbell, the Birds of Chicago, Mavis Staples and John Moreland. I need to dwell on this question!!

      • Fun song!! He did a wonderful rendition of King of the Road that night. The energy in that room was incredible and like almost no other concert I’ve seen. The only comparison I have is seeing Arlo Guthrie sing his dad’s song This Land Is My Land. He led the audience in the best sing along I’ve ever been a part of in real life.

  12. Rush Rox says:

    Rush.

    Nice to see that one on your list, Jim. I have seen many bands multiple times and I lost track long ago of how many live performances I have attended, but for Rush I kept track of every city and venue in which I saw them play — twenty-five in all.

    My wife and I made it a family tradition to travel to the first shows of Rush tours and then follow them from show to show for a few days as those tours got underway. Our kids loved it. My family’s joyous experiences at those concerts are treasured moments in my life. Although music has a power over us that is difficult to explain, it is indeed a gift to the human race and perhaps one of the rarest wonders of the universe.

  13. Mark says:

    Kiss, Blue Oyster Cult, Van Halen, Joe Jackson, America, Waylon Jennings, Crosby & Nash, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Harry Chapin, The Monkees!

  14. These are the bands I remember seeing back in the 80’s & 90’s:
    Ratt, Motley Crüe (twice), Dokken, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Scorpions, David Lee Roth, Bon Jovi (twice), Judas Priest, Cinderella, Kiss, and INXS.

    I had tickets to see Ozzy Osbourne with Metallica as the opening act (I think it was in 1986), but then Ozzy cancelled the show and a few months later, Metallica had their tragic bus accident that killed their original bass player. I’ve always wished I could have seen Metallica before the accident, but you can’t change the past.

    Over the last few years, I’ve attended mostly jazz and a few country concerts. Seeing Brad Paisley was awesome.

  15. Nancy Stewart says:

    Saw Elvis, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra all At Notre Dame. Michael took me to see George Thorogood at the Morris for my birthday one year. My music interest leaned toward vintage jazz, folk, blues and Cajun. Not too many of those came around close … in fact most of them had probably passed on.

  16. Michael says:

    This would take much longer to compile than I’m willing to spend since the memory is so fuzzy despite no mind altering substances, but I’m pretty sure you missed Metallica on my birthday in 1992. Or perhaps my fuzzy memory just thinks you were with me? :P

    • I remember a Metallica show at Deer Creek in the rain, and I’m pretty sure you were there. Was that it?

      Isn’t your birthday 08 Mar? If so Metallica was in Evansville that night (per their Web site) and I didn’t go to that.

      • Michael says:

        It was one of the best concerts I’ve seen. Wonder who was with me then? I believe it was 3 others and they knew it was my birthday and pretty sure my ex wasn’t one of them.

        I did see them at Deer Creek later but don’t recall it raining that night since we were on the lawn. However, the sound was terrible so maybe that drowned out my memory of any rain. Like I said… fuzzy. :)

  17. James M Lucas says:

    My list Unfortunately the dates are a little fuzzy and I have forgotten some of the opening acts
    ISU Arena
    King Crimson-Mountain
    Sly and The Family Stone
    Brownsville Station-Edgar Winter Group
    Black Oak Arkansas
    The Carpenters
    Chicago

    Honey Creek Square
    REO Speedwagon

    Hulman Center
    Black Oak Arkansas
    J. Geil’s Band
    Elvis Presley
    Nov 21 1975- Rush- KISS the first KISS Concert in Terre Haute
    Burton Cummings- Alice Cooper
    Foghat – Boston

    Ball State
    Harry Chapin

    Add to this Vince Gill, Reba McIntire, Fleetwood Mac ( at Deer Creek) and the Happy together Tour at the State Fair

  18. My favorite has been the October, 2014 meeting of the Eastern Indiana Gem & Geological society. I was shown some phenomenal examples of Garnet Mica Schist that I won’t soon forget.

  19. NigelH says:

    No Guns n Roses?

    For me, from what I remember, it goes something like;
    Guns n Roses
    Bon Jovi (x2)
    Jethro Tull
    A bunch of Jazz bands (too many to list/remember)
    Elbow (x2)
    La Roux
    One Direction
    Elvis Costello
    Cyndi Lauper
    Rolling Stones
    The Who
    Paul McCartney
    Roger waters
    Neil Young
    Bob Dylan
    Rodd Stewart

      • NigelH says:

        Makes sense just seemed it fitted in with your list although thinking about it your list is perhaps more heavy. To be honest I was never a massive fan either, my tickets were an 18th birthday gift from a friend and it was a good night for sure.

  20. Scott Bennett says:

    I had a co-worker who served in the Navy starting in the late 60’s in San Francisco. He’d regale me with tales of all the shows he saw, although he doubted he could ever remember them all. He remembered Bill Graham coming out on stage and introducing a new band called Fleetwood Mac!
    Here’s my big list:
    Dr Hook, Bertie Higgins
    George Thorogood, Johnny Winter (plus Winter again another time)
    .38 Special (3 times)
    Dick Dale (5 times)
    Z Z Top, Extreme
    Z Z Top, Black Crows
    Bad Company (2 times)
    Damn Yankees
    Peter Wolf
    Great White
    Pat Benatar, The Alarm
    Huey Lewis
    Loverboy
    Ratt, Poison
    Kiss, Trixter, Faster Pussycat
    Cinderella, Winger, Bulletboys
    Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen
    Outlaws
    Charlie Daniels
    B B King
    Bo Diddley
    Junior Wells
    John Mayall (3 times)
    Motorhead (3 times)
    Anthrax
    Corrosion of Conformity
    Jackyl
    Guns and Roses, Brian May
    Rod Stewart
    Joan Jett
    Ace Frehley
    The Smithereens
    David Lee Roth, Tesla
    Collective Soul, Oleander
    Filter, Drain S T H
    Styx, REO Speedwagon, Survivor
    Heart, Cheap Trick
    Susan Tadeschi
    Queensryche (Operation Livecrime tour), Warrior Soul
    Bettye LaVette (twice)
    Taj Mahal
    Paul Rodgers
    Saxon, Armored Saint, Mindmaze
    Judy Collins
    Dennis DeYoung
    The only show I went to this year was The Maine Squeeze Accordion Ensemble. It was fun for a lark, but that’s all. http://www.mainesqueeze.com/aboutus.htm

  21. Kevin Thomas says:

    Hmmmm … no doubt I don’t remember some, but:

    Rick Wakeman solo; Sunday Break Festival, with Cecilio & Kapono, Gary Wright, America, Santana and Peter Frampton; Yes; Traci Nelson & Mother Earth, Guy Clark, Steve Fromholz, all for the 1st season of Austin City Limits; Augie Meyers, Balcones Fault and Willis Alan Ramsey; America; Genesis – last tour with Steve Hackett; Santana; Petra, Sweet Comfort Band; Phil Keaggy (multiple times over the years); Joe Satriani; G3 first tour with Adrian Legg, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani; David Grisman; Nickel Creek; Simon & Garfunkel (only time they ever came through Austin); Moody Blues (what’s left of them)

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