Long Live Rock!

On September 15th, I will go to another Rush concert. My son, Nick, bought the tickets and we’ll be on the floor of The United Center in Chicago. I will be seeing a concert in the same arena the Chicago Bulls play! Not that that’s important, I just find it interesting. As hard as I try, I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen Rush in concert. It has to be more than 10 times, but I really can’t be too sure. That made me wonder if it was possible to list all the concerts I’ve been to. I’ll give it my best shot.

1976 – Kiss – This was my first concert. I went with Shawn Honnerlaw and we worked our way to the middle front of the crowd on the floor. This was at Riverfront Colosseum and, since it was before the Who tragedy, tickets were general admission. I had an up close and personal view of Kiss in their days before they became caricatures of themselves. Gene Simmons had his 6-inch platform shoes on, Paul Stanley had his shirt open so you could see his chest hair, Ace Frehley was “Space Ace” and Peter Criss sang “Beth.” I’m pretty sure it was the “Detroit Rock City” tour. Bob Seger opened for them, which I find endlessly confusing and entertaining as to why anyone would pair these two.

1977, 1978, 1979 – Rush – Rush was touring and coming to Cincinnati on a regular basis in the mid to late 70s. They toured in support of “2112,” “A Farewell to Kings,” and “Hemispheres,” their 4th, 5th, and 6th studio albums of their now 20 studio albums. The only opening act I can remember is Primus, who now do the opening theme song to “South Park.” If you see Rush now, they don’t have an opening act and they take an intermission and come back and play another couple of hours! Back then, Rush played all of their best songs to date and they played them well. Looking back on these concerts and comparing them to the most recent concerts I’ve seen of theirs is like seeing a Rookie of the Year play compared with a Hall of Fame player play. They’re both awesome in their own ways. One other difference is, in the 70s, I saw Rush play while I was under the influence of marijuana and/or acid. So, saying that, I’m not even sure I remember being there!

1978 – Queen – I saw Queen in Dayton, Ohio with a couple of friends. This was the era of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Somebody to Love,” (I’d put Freddy Mercury‘s vocals on this song up against anyone today and know he’d kick the shit out of anyone), “We Will Rock You,” and “We Are The Champions.” During the part of “Bohemian Rhapsody” when Freddy wasn’t singing, he left the stage only to reappear by rising up from below the stage and then just destroying the rest of the song! You can’t see that here, but here’s a link to a 1975 performance that captures most of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pttN9RkUvAw

1979 – Van Halen – I saw Van Halen’s tour in support of their first album. Seeing Eddie Van Halen play “Eruption” is still a concert highlight for me. David Lee Roth was on his game then and he made an amazing front man.

1979 – Commodores – Okay, not every concert I went to was awesome. Can anyone guess why I went to this one? That’s right, a girl made me take her! The only songs they had that were popular at that time were “Brick House” and “Three Times A Lady.” Let’s play the guessing game again. Which of these two songs did she come to hear? Ding, ding, ding – you are correct – “Three Times A Lady!” We left as the crowd was still applauding that song. The funniest thing about this concert was that we were late because I got lost going there. It was in Dayton and I wasn’t sure exactly how to get there. We didn’t have Garmins back then and I wasn’t going to stop for directions. When we got there, some funk band was playing. I wish I could remember who it was because they were putting on quite a show!

1979 – Kiss again. I was asked by my mom to take my brother Carl to see Kiss. Judas Priest opened for them. When he went to the bathroom, the guy to Carl’s left offered his joint to me. I declined, knowing that I would be driving us home. On the way home, Carl said, “so that’s what I have been smelling coming from your room!” What can I say, it was the 70s!

1980 – 1983 – I was in the Army during this period and I was stationed in Columbus Georgia. Columbus is a city 100 miles south of Atlanta and it’s fairly close to the Alabama border. The city exists to serve the soldiers at Fort Benning where I was stationed. During this time, I saw 38 Special, Thin Lizzy, Nazareth, and Molly Hatchet. While trying to remember which bands played there, I used google and found Alabama Thunderpussy. I really wish I could see them! Also available in Columbus Georgia was live professional wrestling. We went to see some of those events and the real show was the crowd! They were so into it and so into their wrestler that they were shouting and cheering and having a great old time! From my seat, when I wasn’t watching the crowd, I saw every fake move by the wrestlers. These guys weren’t the top of the line pros, so we didn’t get the best, but it was great fun!

1984 – The Police – To go to this concert, you had to send in your name for a lottery drawing. They picked my name and I went with my best friend from college. We ended up sitting in assigned seats behind the stage. Since the stage was open, we were still able to see everything but it was from the back. It was nice to be in the concert, but not the same as being on the floor in front of the stage. Knowing that I won the lottery and was allowed to buy tickets and then finding out it was behind the stage was like waiting for Christmas morning and then being told Santa wasn’t real and opening my presents full of t-shirts and underwear.

1986 – George Thorogood and the Destroyers – this concert was held in a smaller venue in Cincinnati called Cincinnati Gardens. They were here for two nights to record a live album that was issued later that year. I went with the same friend who went with me to see The Police. Remember how I was complaining that we were behind the stage there? At this show, we were in the 7th row on the right side of the floor seats, directly in front of a huge speaker. George was an outstanding guitarist and he even played with the guitar behind his head and back. They also had a great saxophonist playing on many of their songs. Everything was great until we left the building and realized we both just lost half of our hearing! My ears were ringing for about two days!

Skipping ahead to 2000, I took a date to Ozzfest at Riverbend Music Center. On the main stage, we had Pantera, Godsmack, Incubus, and Queens of the Stone Age to name a few. The night was capped off my Ozzy himself! On the second stage, I saw Kittie and Disturbed. During the Disturbed set, my date decided it was time to go crowd surfing. She was lifted from the back of the crowd and surfed all the way to the front! I found her eventually, but she wasn’t in a hurry to leave the front of the stage. This wasn’t the kind of girl you would take home to mother. She had a tramp stamp that included her name so, and I quote, “guys will remember my name when they’re doing me from behind!” When I picked her up, she had to get something from her car. I noticed she had a car seat and empty beer bottles in the back seat. We had a fun day, but that’s the last I ever saw of her.

From the mid-80s to today, I went to a lot of concerts. I can’t remember exactly when, but I’ve seen:

– Chicago
– Neil Diamond
– Barry Manilow
– Vertical Horizon with Sister Hazel
– Kid Rock with Uncle Kracker
– Barenaked Ladies
– Beck with The Flaming Lips opening for him
– Creed
– Three Doors Down
– Puddle of Mud
– Wolfmother (with my middle son, Alex)
– Matchbox Twenty with Sugar Ray
– Dido
– Foo Fighters
– Cake with Gomez opening
– Them Crooked Vultures
– Green Day
– Radiohead

I’m sure I’m leaving some out that I’ll remember later. The bands I regret never seeing include Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, Pearl Jam (I’ll see them next time they’re within 500 miles), and REM.

So, what were your favorite concerts?

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