Blue Oyster Cult, Foghat, and Whitford/St. Holmes: 10/9/1981

Here is why it was so cool growing up in the 70s and 80s. A great triple bill for a whopping $9.00! Even though I had seen Blue Oyster Cult earlier in 1981 with Heart, I could not pass up on this one.

First to play was Whitford/St. Holmes, a band comprised of Brad Whitford from Aerosmith and Derek St. Holmes from Ted Nugent’s band. This was one of those moments in rock history, where I had the chance to see a band that really was not around very long, but was very cool.

Next up was Foghat, and if memory serves me well, this was the first time I saw them. I admit I was into Foghat as a teenager, so seeing them live was a big deal for me (I would see them more times than I care to admit afterwards). They played a short, tight set that included all their hits, and the generally intolerant Sportatorium crowd was appreciative.

Then came BOC. As always, they were nothing short of excellent. This was the Fire of Unknown Origin tour, which was definitely a high point in the band’s career. I have some distinct memories from this performance, like the amazing version of “Godzilla” and “Roadhouse Blues” for the encore, at the end of which Buck Dharma systematically popped his guitar strings one by one during the closing solo, grasping and tearing the last string as the final note decayed. It was rock and roll at its finest.

So as I was researching this show online and I found the setlists for Foghat and BOC, I discovered something ultra-cool. It seems that “The Red &The Black”, “Joan Crawford”, “Burnin’ For You”, “Godzilla”, “Veterans of the Psychic Wars” and “E.T.I (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)” were all recorded at this show and released on the Extraterrestrial Live album (here is track list on Wikipedia). Once this Shelter-in-Place restriction is lifted, I will definitely be scouring the record stores to get a copy of this.

Anyway, here are the setlists. Rock on!

Foghat Setlist:

  • Stone Blue
  • My Babe
  • Eight Days on the Road
  • Wide Boy
  • Fool for the City
  • Third Time Lucky (First Time I Was a Fool)
  • Honey Hush
  • Live Now Pay Later
  • Slow Ride
  • I Just Want to Make Love to You

Blue Oyster Cult Setlist:

  • The Red & the Black
  • E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
  • Joan Crawford
  • Burnin’ for You
  • Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll
  • Veteran of the Psychic Wars
  • ME 262
  • Godzilla
  • Born to Be Wild

Encore:

  • (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
  • Roadhouse Blues

Lynyrd Skynyrd: 5/29/1988

So as you can see from the ticket, this concert was supposed to have been held at the Miami Baseball Stadium, but was instead moved to the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium. I was on the fence about going, for a few reasons. First off, they were not the original Skynyrd, although they had most of the originals, along with Ronnie’s brother on vocals:

Lineup

  • Johnny Van Zant – vocals
  • Gary Rossington – guitar
  • Ed King – guitar
  • Randall Hall – guitar
  • Billy Powell – keyboards
  • Leon Wilkeson – bass
  • Artimus Pyle – drums
  • Lacy Van Zant (Ronnie and Johnny’s father) – tuba for one song
  • Toy Caldwell of the Marshall Tucker Band – fourth guitar to some songs

The second cause for hesitancy was that fact that, living in South Florida, I was subjected to the raving fanaticism of redneck adoration to Skynyrd on an almost daily basis. Finally, I was not crazy about the Baseball Stadium. In spite of all that, I bought a ticket, and felt somewhat relieved when it was announced they were moving the show to the Sporto.

The Gary Rossington Band opened the show, and got the crowd pretty riled. Rebel flags were waved with pride, something that made me feel less than comfortable.

When Skynyrd came out, I have to confess, they sounded good. Seeing Ed King up there was a treat, and Billy Powell’s keyboard playing was as great as ever. While I never considered myself a fan of the band, I did know every song that they played, which always makes for a good concert experience.

When the band played “Free Bird” as the last song of the evening, Johnny opted not to sing, and just hung his hat on the microphone stand, and the band played an instrumental version to which the crowd sang along. It was actually a nice, sentimental gesture.

Anyway, here’s the setlist. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • Workin’ for MCA
  • I Ain’t the One
  • Saturday Night Special
  • Gimme Back My Bullets
  • The Needle and the Spoon
  • That Smell
  • The Ballad of Curtis Loew
  • Things Goin’ On
  • Swamp Music
  • I Know a Little
  • Gimme Three Steps
  • Call Me the Breeze
  • What’s Your Name
  • Comin’ Home
  • Simple Man
  • Sweet Home Alabama
  • Free Bird

Pat Benatar: 9/25/1981

Back in 1981, Pat Benatar was definitely one of the top women of rock. Not only did her songs rock, but they were really empowering for young women, which was a great thing in my opinion.

I don’t recall with whom I went to this concert, but I do have a clear memory of her on stage. The first thing that struck me was that she was quite short. For some reason, she seemed taller in the MTV videos. But regardless of stature, she was pure energy on stage. I recall being amazed at the level of power which she projected.

I wish I had more to share about this show. I looked at a few setlists from that tour, and this was pretty much the standard one. As I read it, I recalled “Helter Skelter,” which I had forgotten. It’s great when memories are rekindled.

Rock on!

Setlist (generic from tour):

  • You Better Run
  • Treat Me Right
  • Fire and Ice
  • Out-A-Touch
  • I Need a Lover
  • Promises in the Dark
  • Hit Me With Your Best Shot
  • Hell Is for Children
  • Heartbreaker
  • Precious Time
  • In the Heat of the Night
  • We Live for Love
  • Helter Skelter
  • Just Like Me
  • I’m Gonna Follow You
  • It’s a Tuff Life

ZZ Top, Sammy Hagar, and Foghat: 5/29/1983

My youngest brother recently reminded me that this was his first concert, so I felt obliged to search for the stub and write a post about it.

I had seen ZZ Top prior to this, but Eliminator was a huge commercial success for them (you could not watch MTV for an hour without seeing a ZZ Top video). So it was not surprising that they were headlining a triple bill, and although I had also previously seen Sammy and Foghat too, I felt it was my brotherly duty to go with my lil bro to his first show.

My memories of this show are somewhat fuzzy, and I’m sure my brother is going to remember a lot more than me (first rock show always leaves a lasting impression). I did recall headlights beaming from the stage as the show was getting ready to start, and then the bearded rockers kicking right in with a huge Eliminator backdrop behind them.

I located, on Wikipedia, the basic setlist from this tour, which sounded right to me. As I looked over the setlist, I remembered specific songs, particularly “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” and “Jailhouse Rock” (a nice surprise).

Anyway, this would be the first of many concerts with my brother. Here is the full setlist.

ZZ Top Setlist

  • Got Me Under Pressure
  • I Got The Six
  • Gimme All Your Lovin’
  • Waitin’ For The Bus
  • Jesus Just Left Chicago
  • I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
  • Francine
  • Sharp Dressed Man
  • Legs
  • Ten Foot Pole
  • TV Dinners
  • Manic Mechanic
  • A Fool For Your Stockings
  • Heard It On The X
  • Pearl Necklace
  • Cheap Sunglasses
  • Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers
  • Dust My Broom
  • Just Got Paid
  • Arrested For Driving While Blind
  • Party On The Patio
  • Tube Snake Boogie
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • La Grange
  • Tush

Van Halen: 4/7/1986

This concert is filed under the “Why the Hell Did I Pay to See Van Halen Again” category. This was like the fifth time I went to see them, and other than when they opened for Black Sabbath in 1978, I thought they sucked every time. (Note: Two of those five times they also opened for the Stones.) Anyway, I had hopes that with Sammy Hagar singing they would be less goofy than when David Lee Roth was the frontman, and they were, but still, I got bored pretty quickly. Honestly, having seen Sammy solo a few times, I thought he was better on his own than with Van Halen. Bottom line is I left early. I could not justify battling the horrific Sportatorium traffic to stay until the end of what, to me, was a mediocre show at best.

Anyway, here’s the setlist, courtesy of the internet.

Setlist:

  • You Really Got Me
  • There’s Only One Way to Rock
  • Summer Nights
  • Get Up
  • Drum Solo
  • Why Can’t This Be Love
  • 5150
  • Bass Solo
  • Panama
  • Best of Both Worlds
  • Love Walks In
  • Good Enough
  • Guitar Solo (Eruption, Cathedral & Spanish Fly)
  • I Can’t Drive 55
  • Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love

Encore:

  • Jump
  • (Unknown)
  • Rock and Roll

Elton John: 10/14/1984

This was my first time seeing Elton John, and I was pretty psyched. Elton was one of those artists I grew up listening to as a kid and was definitely an influence on me musically. He was touring in support of his “Breaking Hearts” album, which did quite well if my memory serves me correctly. Elton had Davey Johnstone, Dee Murray, and Nigel Olsson supporting him, which was great seeing them all on stage together.

I went with my brother Mike, and our seats were behind the stage. But since the Sportatorium was essentially a free-for-all, we went and found some seats on the side about halfway back.

Elton opened with “Tiny Dancer,” which was beautiful. He came on stage wearing a long purple coat, which was elegantly glam-boyant. He then started ramping things up and eventually had the crowd totally rockin’, kicking the piano stool backwards and standing at the keys, pounding away like a madman. But the frenzy peaked about halfway through the show, when Elton took off his sleek purple jacket and flung it into the crowd.

Now from my vantage point, I could see the melee that ensued. Crazed rock fanatics clawed and punched each other, while they tore and shredded the jacket. I can’t recall just how long the tug-of-war lasted, but I feel like I heard a couple songs as my eyes shifted from the stage to the crowd and back to the stage again.

While there were a few songs I would have liked to have heard that he didn’t play, the show was pretty solid and he played most of his big hits. He certainly had a formidable body of work to choose from. Anyway, here’s the full setlist.

Setlist:

  • Tiny Dancer
  • Levon
  • Li’l ‘Frigerator
  • Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
  • Daniel
  • Restless
  • Candle in the Wind
  • The Bitch Is Back
  • Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  • Who Wears These Shoes?
  • Sad Songs (Say So Much)
  • Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word
  • Bennie and the Jets
  • Philadelphia Freedom
  • I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
  • Kiss the Bride
  • I’m Still Standing
  • Your Song
  • Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  • Crocodile Rock

Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws, and Foghat: 5/22/1987

This ticket stub proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will go to just about any concert. I used to refer to Molly Hatchet as “Molly Hack-shit,” the Outlaws I had seen before, and Foghat I had seen more times than I care to recount. Still, I spent my $12.50 to spend the evening with the South Florida southern rock drunkards and marveled at the hootin’ and hollerin’ that occurred between each song.

I got nothing else to share regarding this show. I feel like I have intentionally purged all memory of this from my brain.

Judas Priest: 7/1/1984

Judas Priest was one of those bands that I needed to acquire a taste for. A lot of my metal-head friends were die-hard Priest fanatics, but I was lukewarm towards them for a long time. I didn’t hate them, and I didn’t love them. I’d rock out when they came on the radio, but never bothered to buy any of their records. Anyway, when I saw they were coming to the Hollywood Sportatorium, I figured I might as well go and check them out, because there’s nothing quite like a good thrashing metal show, right?

The concert totally kicked ass. While there were a lot of songs I didn’t know, I knew enough to enjoy it, and the stage show was truly impressive. They were totally high-energy live, which is important. There is nothing worse than going to a concert where the band sounds like they would rather be watching TV in a hotel room. These guys wanted to be on stage, and it showed in ever scream and every shredding guitar solo. I left drenched in sweat after having completely rocked myself out.

Over the years, since this show, I’ve listened to more Judas Priest and definitely gained a deeper appreciation for their talent. I even downloaded some of their stuff on Apple Music. I have some fun memories now of driving with my kids and rocking out to “Breaking the Law.”

Here’s the setlist from the show. Rock on!

Setlist:

  • Love Bites
  • Jawbreaker
  • Grinder
  • Metal Gods
  • Breaking the Law
  • Sinner
  • Desert Plains
  • Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
  • The Sentinel
  • Rock Hard, Ride Free
  • Night Comes Down
  • Electric Eye
  • Heavy Duty
  • Defenders of the Faith
  • Victim of Changes
  • Freewheel Burning
  • The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)

Encore:

  • Living After Midnight
  • Hell Bent for Leather

Encore 2:

  • You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

Yes: 4/21/1984

Since Yes is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I was inspired to dig through my mess of ticket stubs and locate the stub from the first time I saw Yes, which was on the 9012Live tour. They played at the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium, notorious for its crappy acoustics; but in spite of being in a proverbial barn, the band sounded amazing.

I remember the stage being sparsely populated. The amps seemed to be hidden somewhere. There was just a futuristic series or ramps that allowed the musicians to move about in an unfettered manner. Trevor Rabin was the guitarist on this tour, and though I love Steve Howe’s guitar work, Trevor did an outstanding job. They featured the 90125 album prominently, but included some choice classic pieces, such as “And You and I” (one of my favorite Yes songs) and “Soon” from the Relayer album.

The band closed the main set with “Starship Trooper,” and as they played the outro, the lights above the stage began folding down like the landing gear of a spacecraft. Smoke billowed as multicolored lights flashed and exploded. It was really mind-blowing! After that, they came back and played “Roundabout” for the encore. In my humble opinion, a spectacular show!

I would see Yes several more times in my life, and each show was unique and special in its own way, but this one holds a special place in my heart. Here is the full setlist.

  • Cinema
  • Leave It
  • Yours Is No Disgrace
  • Hold On
  • Hearts
  • I’ve Seen All Good People
  • Keyboard Solo
  • Solly’s Beard
  • Changes
  • And You and I
  • Soon
  • Make It Easy
  • Owner of a Lonely Heart
  • It Can Happen
  • Long Distance Runaround
  • Whitefish / Amazing Grace
  • City of Love
  • Starship Trooper

Encore:

  • Roundabout

Jethro Tull with U.K.: 9/4 or 5/1979

This is a pretty sad stub. The concert was amazing, but I was quite upset that the gatekeeper gave me the short stub. I even said something to the guy, but he was a real asshole about it and refused to let me have the better half. As such, I had to do some digging online to find the actual date of the concert, which was part of the Stormwatch tour. It seems that they played two nights at the Sportatorium. I’m not sure which was the one I attended.

Anyway, the concert was awesome! I was a huge Tull fan growing up. I have great memories of being in the woods in New York with my friends, listening to Songs from the Wood on a dinky cassette player. One of my earliest album purchases was Best of Jethro Tull, and I listened to it over and over and over. So getting to see Tull was a big deal for me.

The prog rock band U.K. opened the show. I was not that familiar with them at the time, but once I learned more about them, I felt fortunate to have gotten to see them live. The incarnation of the band I saw was the trio version which included singer/bassist John Wetton (from King Crimson, Roxy Music, and Uriah Heep), keyboardist/electric violinist Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music and Frank Zappa’s band), and drummer Terry Bozzio (from Frank Zappa’s band). I didn’t know any of their music, but damn – I was really impressed with their performance.

Then Tull took the stage. The entire band was out, sans Ian Anderson. There was a stand in the center of the stage holding his flute. Suddenly, a pirate-looking figure swung from one side of the Sporto on a rope to the other, swung back, and on the next swing, let go, slid across the stage and swooped up his flute. I was completely blown away! They played five songs from the new album, after which Ian said, “Well, we’ve played some new stuff, now the rest of the evening will be all older material. This song starts out loud, then gets soft, then gets loud, then gets soft, then gets loud again. I think you know the rest…” and they blasted into “Aqualung.” The crowd exploded. And true to his word, the rest of the show was all classic tunes, which included “Songs from the Wood,” “Thick as a Brick,” “Too Old to Rock and Roll,” and “Cross-eyed Mary.” And just when I thought it could get no better: the encore!! They came back, played Minstrel in the Gallery > Locomotive Breath > Dambusters March > Minstrel in the Gallery (reprise). To this day, that holds up as one of the best encores I’ve ever seen.

I would go on and see Jethro Tull other times in my life, but none of the subsequent shows ever lived up to this one. It was by far the best Tull show I have seen, and up there with some of the best concerts overall.