Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: 9/10/1985

Springsteen on the Born in the U.S.A. tour. He was definitely one of the top touring acts in 1985. I had not seen Bruce but had heard about his epic concerts, so I figured I had to go and check him out. He lived up to the hype, that’s for sure.

I went to this show with my concert buddy Jim. He drove, and we parked in some sketchy lot near the Miami Orange Bowl, then made our way to the stadium. At this time, I was already losing interest in stadium shows. Shitty acoustics, too many people, risk of bad weather, there are myriad reasons to avoid stadium shows. But there was no other place that could hold the crowd that Springsteen would draw, so the Orange Bowl it was. At least we had decent seats.

Not surprising, he opened the show with “Born in the U.S.A.” It was a great anthem song to kick things off, and I was kind of glad he got it out of the way early. Not that it is a bad song, it was just way overplayed on the radio in those days. Then he tore right into “Badlands,” which was cool.

Miami in September can be brutally hot, and Bruce is known to sweat a lot during his performances. Anyway, the band had tubing set up on the stage that blasted a steady stream of cool air onto the musicians. I was somewhat impressed with this, and assumed that they were enjoying some air conditioning while still playing outside.

As was expected, the band played a long time (I want to say it was about 4 hours). They did two solid sets, and an encore that was so long, it was essentially a third set in my opinion. I have to say, after seeing Bruce live, I had a whole new level of appreciation for him as a musician. The man can rock. Period.

After the show, Jim and I started looking for the car. Unfortunately, we had forgotten where we parked, and as we wandered the dark and seedy streets of downtown Miami in the 80’s, I was somewhat concerned. But thankfully, we had no issues, and after almost an hour, we stumbled upon the lot where Jim’s car was parked.

Here is the setlist.

Set 1:

  • Born in the U.S.A.
  • Badlands
  • Out in the Street
  • Johnny 99
  • Seeds
  • Darkness on the Edge of Town
  • The River
  • Working on the Highway
  • Trapped
  • Darlington County
  • Glory Days
  • The Promised Land
  • My Hometown
  • Thunder Road

Set 2:

  • Cover Me
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • Hungry Heart
  • Cadillac Ranch
  • No Surrender
  • I’m on Fire
  • Pink Cadillac
  • Bobby Jean

Encore:

  • Can’t Help Falling in Love
  • Born to Run
  • Ramrod
  • Twist and Shout
  • Do You Love Me?
  • Stand on It
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Rolling Stones: 11/16/1989

This was the second night of a two-night stand in Miami. The first night, we had great seats close to the front; this night, we were off on the side, which was fine. Different perspective of the massive stage show.

At the time, I was working as a chef and this particular week was extremely busy, so in addition to two Stones concerts, I was also working 60+ hours. That said, after a late night of rock and roll the night before, and then working early in the morning, when we got to the Orange Bowl, I discovered to my dismay that I had forgotten the tickets at home. UGH! Something I am usually very anal about. Thankfully, I had enough time to drive home, get the tickets, and still catch Living Colour, who again opened this show.

During the break between bands, my friend Lydia and I were hanging out and talking, when a young woman in the row in front of us turned around to face us, holding a big magnifying glass in her hand like she was Sherlock Holmes or something. She leaned toward me and proceeded to examine my crotch with her magnifying glass. I was somewhat taken aback. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or offended. So I responded in a way that felt right—I laughed, and so did everyone else around us. Hey, no harm, no foul.

The Stones hit the stage and opened pretty much the same as they did the first night, but they swapped out a few songs, which made it nice. The songs they did this evening and not the first which stood out for me were “Angie” and “Little Red Rooster.” Both total surprises and most welcome. Also, I have to say that the liquid light show that accompanied “2000 Light Years From Home” looked much better from where we were sitting. You need to have a little distance to appreciate that kind of psychedelic imagery.

Anyway, here’s the setlist from the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band…

Setlist:

  • Start Me Up
  • Bitch
  • Sad Sad Sad
  • Undercover of the Night
  • Harlem Shuffle
  • Tumbling Dice
  • Miss You
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Angie
  • Rock and a Hard Place
  • Mixed Emotions
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • Midnight Rambler
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  • Little Red Rooster
  • Can’t Be Seen (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Happy (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Paint It Black
  • 2000 Light Years From Home
  • Sympathy for the Devil
  • Gimme Shelter
  • It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
  • Brown Sugar
  • (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Encore:

  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash

Rolling Stones: 11/15/1989

This was the first of two nights that the Stones were performing at the Orange Bowl in Miami, and I had tickets to both shows. Living Colour was opening for both shows, so I was really psyched. I really liked Living Colour a lot, so was pumped to see them, almost as much so as I was to see the Stones again.

This particular tour was the Steel Wheels tour. There was a lot of criticism about the band’s age, and the jokes that were going around were referring to it as the “Steel Wheelchairs Tour,” or the “Steal Your Dollars Tour.” The irony is the face value of the ticket was still only $29.50. Try seeing the Stones or anyone for that price anymore.

For this first night, we had amazing seats—13th row! We got there early, engaged in some pre-show festivities, then got our seats. Actually, being a little bit back was perfect. Any closer to the massive stage and it would have been difficult to see.

Living Colour came out first and kicked ass! Vernon Reid was incredible on the guitar, I almost felt like giving up as a guitarist. The energy was so high, I remember thinking after their set: “I’ve seen the Stones before, and I’m not sure they will be able to top this.” Thankfully, I was mistaken.

After a long break, the Stones took the stage and launched in to “Start Me Up.” Perfect opener! After that they went right into “Bitch,” and it was nothing but awesome rock and roll for the rest of the night. When they finished, I marveled at how great they sounded, and how much better they were than when I saw them back in 1981. There were so many great moments, I can’t pick out any high points, though I will say that “Dead Flowers,” “2000 Light Years From Home“ and “Happy” were most welcome surprises.

Here is the full setlist. Check back soon for my thoughts on the second night (hint – some different songs).

Setlist:

  • Start Me Up
  • Bitch
  • Sad Sad Sad
  • Undercover of the Night
  • One Hit (To the Body)
  • Tumbling Dice
  • Miss You
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Play With Fire
  • Dead Flowers
  • Rock and a Hard Place
  • Mixed Emotions
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • Midnight Rambler
  • You Can’t Always Get What You Want
  • Before They Make Me Run (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Happy (Keith Richards on lead vocals)
  • Paint It Black
  • 2000 Light Years From Home
  • Sympathy for the Devil
  • Gimme Shelter
  • It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
  • Brown Sugar
  • (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Encore:

  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash

U2: 12/3/1987

I know that this might draw down the wrath of U2 fans, but I have to be honest and say that this show was a little disappointing for me. It’s not that the band was bad—on the contrary, they were very good. The issue for me was that I had seen U2 twice on the Unforgettable Fire tour in a much smaller venue, which was mindblowing. But in a big stadium, I just did not feel the same connection with the band that I did in the smaller venue. It is difficult to pull off a good stadium show. Not many bands can do it well. I suspect U2 has gotten better at the stadium performance, but 30 years ago, not so much.

Anyway, Buckwheat Zydeco opened the show, and they were fun. Cool, danceable, New Orleans style music. I seem to recall that they had a hit on the radio at that time, but the song escapes my memory.

U2 came out and opened with “Where the Streets Have No Name.” I remember the sound being pretty good for the Orange Bowl, which was notorious for its God-awful acoustics, but still not that great. And since I had nosebleed seats, I spent the night straining my eyes, trying to see the miniscule figures on the stage. I was just a bad setting for a concert. Maybe if I were closer, I would have enjoyed it more.

I don’t have much more to share about this show, but I do have the setlist.

Setlist

  • Where the Streets Have No Name
  • I Will Follow
  • Trip Through Your Wires
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
  • One Tree Hill
  • Gloria
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Exit
  • In God’s Country
  • People Get Ready
  • Bad
  • October
  • New Year’s Day
  • Pride (In the Name of Love)

Encore:

  • Bullet the Blue Sky
  • Running To Stand Still
  • With or Without You
  • 40

Genesis: 3/1/1987

Genesis_3-1-87

I don’t remember a whole lot about this concert. I don’t even recall who it was I went with. I do remember not being very impressed with the show. We had seats in the upper deck way in the back, and Genesis was not able to connect with a stadium crowd, in my humble opinion. I remember them opening with “Mama,” which was good, but then as I watched the ants mill about on stage, and had to sit through a plethora of their poppy songs, I lost interest rapidly. I did manage to make it through the entire show, in spite of it all.

Peter Gabriel solo was way better in concert than Genesis with Phil Collins at the helm. But that’s just my opinion.

Anyway, I found the setlist online, so here it is. Really, that’s about all I have to share on this show. Rock on!

Setlist:

  •  Mama
  •  Abacab
  •  Domino
  •  That’s All
  •  The Brazilian
  •  In the Cage
  •  …In That Quiet Earth
  •  Afterglow
  •  Land of Confusion
  •  Tonight, Tonight, Tonight
  •  Throwing It All Away
  •  Home by the Sea
  •  Second Home by the Sea
  •  Invisible Touch
  •  Drum Duet
  •  Los Endos

Encore:

  •  Turn It On Again

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

Pink Floyd: 11/1/1987

PinkFloyd_11-1-87

Yes, I paid $20 to see Pink Floyd, row 38. How times have changed in regard to ticket prices.

When it was announced that Pink Floyd had reunited and would be playing at the Miami Orange Bowl, you can imagine that it was a big deal for concertgoers, even if it was Pink Floyd sans Roger Waters. My brother Mike and I made plans to get tickets and go to the show together. Now, this was back before there was the internet to buy tickets and such, so if you wanted to get tickets, you had to go wait in line outside the record store, which for us was Record Land near the 163rd Street Mall. My brother secured a spot a couple days before the tickets went on sale and we stayed there in shifts, watching as the line grew and grew.

It was the night before the tickets went on sale, and the crowd had swelled exponentially. The line snaked along the sidewalk and I could not see the end, but we were close to the front, so I was psyched, knowing we would get good seats. For the home stretch, it was my brother, his friend Roger, and myself, and we were having fun taking part in the revelry that night. But then it started to rain, that heavy subtropical Miami rain. A torrential downpour. But we were OK because we were under an overhang, so we watched people scrambling and running about in the storm. Now Roger, my brother’s friend, was quite the prankster. One might even say he was a smart-ass. So this poor girl was making a dash to her car and Roger yelled: “Hey! You dropped something!” She stopped in the midst of the deluge and started looking around on the ground. “Where?” she asked. “Right there!” More looking. “Where?” “Right there!” We could not help starting to laugh and she finally realized what was happening. She glared at Roger and said, “You think you’re really fuckin’ funny, huh?” Sadly to say, that only made us laugh more.

Anyway, the next morning we got our tickets. We were going to see the Floyd!

The day of the concert arrived and we went to the Orange Bowl early and got our seat. Unfortunately, we would be paying our karmic debt. It rained, and it rained. So we stood out there with the thousands of others and got drenched while the band played. Thankfully, it was not that cold, and the rain had the bonus of making the lasers all the more visually stunning, as the rain caused the lasers to glimmer like little diamonds that were floating like cosmic stardust within the waves of light. It definitely added to the surreal experience of seeing Pink Floyd.

The show opened with “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” which was great. The band played two sets, performing a nice balance of old classic tunes and new material from the “Momentary Lapse of Reason” album. They ended the show with “Run Like Hell.”

But the adventure did not end when the lights came up. We still had to drive home, and I was the one who had to drive, in the rain, and feeling dazed from the show. So we piled into the car and started out. It was dark, raining hard, and very few streetlights. I was driving carefully when all of a sudden I saw someone standing in the middle of the road, right in front of me! I hit the brakes and skidded to a stop, maybe a foot away from the police officer standing in the middle of the intersection trying to direct traffic. He stepped forward and slammed his fist on the hood of my car, screaming things at me that I could not understand. My heart raced as I sat there. Still, I could not help but wonder at the logic of this officer standing in the middle of the intersection, at night, in the rain, with no flashlight or reflective clothing. I waited, trying to calm my nerves, and then witnessed another vehicle driving on the cross street fly through the intersection and almost hit the cop. The officer literally had to dive out of the way of the vehicle. I really felt scared for the officer, but still wondered why he did not use his flashlight. Finally, he waved us through and I carefully navigated us home without any further incident.

While this was the first time I saw Pink Floyd, it would not be the last. I ended up seeing them two more times, and each time it was an experience. But those are other stubs and other stories, which I will share in the future.

Shine on!