The Who: 8/16/1997

“Quadrophenia” is one of my favorite Who albums, so when I saw they were touring and performing the album in its entirety, I didn’t even hesitate. My friend Jim also wanted to go, so we got the general admission field tickets, which were pretty cheap. We figured we would get there early and snag a decent spot, which was what we did.

Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ was the opening act. I had not seen them before, but I had heard of them. They were good; better than your average opener. But I was definitely stoked to see The Who.

How to describe the energy when the band kicked in to “The Real Me”? Words fail me. John Entwistle was all over that bass with his spider fingers. “The Real Me” was my buddy Jim’s favorite Who song, so he was instantly blown away.

The rest of the show was nothing short of excellent. They played through all of “Quadrophenia” and then returned for an encore which was actually more like a second set. They even tossed in some Who silliness and played a little bit of “It’s a Small World,” conjuring the Disney energy of being in Florida.

But what stands out the most for me about this particular show was the very end… the last note of “Who Are You.” Pete took his guitar and slammed in into the stage. While this was not the wanton guitar destruction of yore, it was the only time I saw Townsend “smash” a guitar on stage. It is one of those iconic rock images that is burned into the collective rock and roll consciousness.

I would see The Who perform Quadrophenia again years later, after Entwistle’s death. That show was great for other reasons, but this one has a warm spot in my heart.

Here is the full setlist. “Long Live Rock!”

Quadrophenia

  • I Am the Sea
  • The Real Me
  • Quadrophenia
  • Cut My Hair
  • The Punk and the Godfather
  • I’m One
  • The Dirty Jobs
  • Helpless Dancer
  • Is It in My Head?
  • I’ve Had Enough
  • 5:15
  • Sea and Sand
  • Drowned
  • Bell Boy
  • Doctor Jimmy
  • The Rock
  • Love, Reign O’er Me

Encore

  • I’m the Face
  • Won’t Get Fooled Again
  • Behind Blue Eyes
  • Substitute
  • I Can’t Explain
  • It’s a Small World ([Disney] cover) (Partial; sung by Roger)
  • The Kids Are Alright
  • Who Are You

The Police with The Fixx and Eric Burdon and the Animals: 10/28/1983

Police_10-28-83

As the ticket stub shows, this concert was originally supposed to be at the Miami Baseball Stadium. But because of the huge demand for tickets, the concert was moved to the Orange Bowl, a much larger venue. Even in the big stadium, it was a packed mob scene.

I went with my girlfriend at the time and my brother Mike. We got there plenty early, since it was general admission and I wanted to see The Animals, who were opening the show. The Animals were great and Eric Burdon’s voice was strong. The only downer song was “House of the Rising Sun.” They kind of changed the arrangement around and it felt like they were playing it half-assed. I felt like, really? I’m sure you are getting tired of the song, but if you are going to play it, at least put some energy into it and realize that it is such an iconic song that futzing with the arrangement  is akin to Led Zeppelin playing a reggae version of “Stairway to Heaven.”

The Fixx played next, and they were cool. They had some hits at the time: “Saved By Zero” and “One Thing Leads to Another.” They definitely had a good energy and light show. Plus, their style fit in well with The Police.

So I have to say that The Police were way better live than I expected. They always seemed more like a studio band than a good live act. But I was pleasantly surprised. They were really high-energy and sounded great, even in an acoustic hell hole like the Orange Bowl. My big complaint, though, was the overcrowding. It was really uncomfortable to be mashed among so many people sweating in the South Florida heat for the entire day. But other than that—good times!

Here is the Police’s setlist, courtesy of setlist.fm:

  1. Voices Inside My Head
  2. Synchronicity I
  3. Synchronicity II
  4. Walking in Your Footsteps
  5. Message in a Bottle
  6. Walking on the Moon
  7. My God
  8. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
  9. Wrapped Around Your Finger
  10. Tea in the Sahara
  11. Hole in My Life
  12. Spirits in the Material World
  13. Invisible Sun
  14. One World (Not Three)
  15. King of Pain
  16. Don’t Stand So Close to Me
  17. Every Breath You Take
  18. Murder by Numbers
  19. Roxanne
  20. (encore) Can’t Stand Losing You / Reggatta de Blanc
  21. (encore) So Lonely

Jimmy Page: 9/8/1988

Page_9-8-88

Let me start by saying, as a guitarist, I have been inspired and awed by the great Jimmy Page. He has the mystique, the skill, and the style that earns him a spot as a guitar god. So, when I saw that he was performing at the James L. Knight Center in Miami (a small venue), there wasn’t even a question as to whether or not I was going. I was there!

I went with my good friend Craig. We got to the show early since it was general admission and we had decided to get as close as possible to the stage. And close we got. But alas, there was a problem. As Page and his band came on stage, it began to get crushing up front. After being up front for a nice part of the show (which included an awesome version of “Over the Hills and Far Away”), Craig and I decided we should move back so we could enjoy the rest of the show without being squashed.

Craig looked at the mass of people and yelled into my ear: “How the fuck are we going to get through that?”

I looked at the impenetrable sea of rockers and thought for a minute. Then I had an idea. “Follow me!” I yelled back at him.

I then put my hand over my mouth and pretended to wretch, acting like I was struggling to hold back projectile vomit. The sea of people parted before me like I was Moses at the Red Sea. It was beautiful! Never underestimate how quickly people will move out of your way when they think you are going to throw up on them. We cleared the crush and laughed heartily as we found a nice relaxing spot to sit and enjoy the rest of the concert.

A couple highlights about this show that are worth mentioning. Page played an amazing version of “In My Time of Dying” which featured some really eerie slide guitar playing. Then, for the encore, Page brought out the classic double-neck guitar and played an instrumental version of “Stairway to Heaven” to which everyone in the theater sang along. It was the perfect way to close a fantastic night of rock and roll.

This was not the first time I saw Page in concert, nor would it be the last, but it was a really cool show and one that stands out in my memory of concerts.

Heart and Blue Oyster Cult: 4/19/1981

HeartBOC_4-19-81

While the stub only lists Heart and Blue Oyster Cult, there were several other bands at this all-day rock fest:

  • Firefall (don’t ask me how they managed to get on the bill)
  • Motorhead (they were cool)
  • Freewheel (a most forgettable act)

So a little bit about the Miami Baseball Stadium. Back then, Miami had no professional baseball team. The stadium was a dump that was used by northern teams for spring training. And occasionally, they would book a large show there. Since I was a huge BOC fan and I also really liked Heart a lot, going to this concert was a no-brainer.

As I mentioned, Freewheel was completely forgettable, and if it wasn’t for the wonders of the internet, I would never have even been able to tell you who was the first band that played. But Motorhead was very good. They rocked and got the crowd riled up. Unfortunately, Firefall sucked all the energy out of the crowd. It was kind of like being on a musical rollercoaster.

Finally, BOC came out. This was right before they released Fire of Unknown Origin, so they were still a powerful force in rock music. I had seen the Cult before, so I knew what to expect, and they delivered, tearing through a set of hits like “Cities on Flame,” “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” and “Godzilla.” During “Godzilla,” a huge Godzilla monster emerged from behind the stage, shooting menacing red lights from its eyes and breathing clouds of smoke. It was impressive.

Heart took the stage and proved that they deserved the headliner slot. They totally rocked! I was in the stands at that point, having spent most of the day on the open field and desperately needing a break. I remember feeling the stands trembling under the concerted stomping of feet as Ann and Nancy Wilson kept the crowd rockin’ after a long day of music.

It’s kind of weird to think back on this show, which was almost 35 years ago. Makes me feel old. But, one good thing about being old is that I was able to go to see great shows like this for less than what TicketMaster now charges as a “convenience fee.”

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to go out and see some live music!

The Rolling Stones: 10/25/1981

Stones_10-25-81

This stub is from the second time I saw the Stones (click here to read about the first time). So in order to get tickets for this show, I had to mail away. I sent a check for $81.60 for four tickets. After a long wait, I got an envelope in the mail which included my returned check along with a note that said: “Incorrect payment, $81.75.” So for .15 cents they didn’t send me any tickets! I was devastated. Anyway, I found an ad in the paper to buy tickets from someone. I told the person my sob story. He took pity on me and sold them for just a little bit over face value.

This was a general admission show at the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, so we went in early to get a spot up close on the field. We staked our space near the front, cramped in among the throngs of rock and roll crazies. As we patiently watched the Henry Paul Band and Van Halen perform, the temperature got hotter and hotter. It became dangerously hot and because there were so many people on the field, it was impossible to move or go to get a drink of water. People started passing out, so to stave off a disaster, hoses were given to the security in front of the stage. They began hosing the crowd to keep everyone cool. We all stood there with faces turned up and mouths open waiting for water.

Finally, the Stones hit the stage, opening with “Under My Thumb” (same as the previous day). Mick ran to the front of the stage and took one of the hoses from a security person and began spraying the crowd, and yes, he sprayed me. To this day, I can honestly tell people that I got hosed by Mick Jagger, and was still able to respect myself in the morning.

Rock on!

Setlist

  • Under My Thumb
  • When the Whip Comes Down
  • Let’s Spend the Night Together
  • Shattered
  • Neighbours
  • Black Limousine
  • Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
  • Twenty Flight Rock
  • Let Me Go
  • Time Is on My Side
  • Beast of Burden
  • Waiting on a Friend
  • Let It Bleed
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  • Little T&A
  • Tumbling Dice
  • She’s So Cold
  • All Down the Line
  • Hang Fire
  • Street Fighting Man
  • Miss You
  • Start Me Up
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • Brown Sugar
  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Encore:

  • (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction