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.

Eric Clapton: 6/30/1982

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Eric Clapton has definitely earned the title of guitar god. As a guitarist, seeing him live for the first time was huge for me.

I went to the concert with my friend Jim, but almost didn’t get to see the show. I had snuck in a bottle and was imbibing prior to Clapton taking the stage, when a big hand clutched it while I was holding it. I looked up into the face of a very large security person, flashlight cocked back menacingly, as he said, “That’s mine!” I relinquished the bottle, and he stalked off, and I was grateful that the incident ended there.

We were kind of toward the back of the Sportatorium when Clapton came out, but the energy was immediate. Even in a place notorious for its terrible acoustics, I could hear his guitar work and was impressed from the first song. But we were all in for a surprise that night!

A few songs into the show, a big black man came out onto the stage. Eric must not have known about this because he turned, expressed surprise, and then welcomed the great Muddy Waters to the stage. They performed “Blow Wind Blow” together, which is one of those musical moments that is imprinted into my psyche. But what makes this even more amazing is that this ended up being Muddy Waters’ last performance ever.

Mr. Waters made his final concert appearance last June when he performed his early hit “Blow Wind Blow” in an Eric Clapton show in Miami.

(New York Times)

The other big surprise for me was a performance of “Whiter Shade of Pale.” I think they did it because the keyboardist was from Procol Harum, but I am not 100% sure of this.

The rest of the show was classic EC. I would see Clapton again years later, but the first time would be the best for me. Here’s the full setlist.


Setlist:

  • Tulsa Time
  • Lay Down Sally
  • I Shot the Sheriff
  • Blow Wind Blow (with Muddy Waters)
  • Wonderful Tonight
  • Pink Bedroom
  • Ramblin’ on My Mind
  • Have You Ever Loved a Woman
  • After Midnight
  • A Whiter Shade of Pale
  • Key to the Highway
  • Double Trouble
  • Blues Power
  • Cocaine
  • Layla
  • Further Up the Road

U2: 5/3 & 4/1985

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As news is out that U2 is going on tour again, I decided to dig up a couple stubs from the first two times I saw U2. It was on the Unforgettable Fire tour and they were awesome! I had bought a ticket to see them on the Friday show, and they were so great, I went back to see them the next night.

The two shows were very similar, except I recall that on the second night, they added “I Fall Down” to the set. I did some searching online, but was only able to find a setlist from the first night. Frankly, I’m surprised I was even able to find this. There was no digital media to record all this information back in the 80’s. I’m glad someone had the forethought to keep a record of the details.

Anyway, here’s the setlist from the 5/3 show. Sorry I don’t have more to share about this one. All I remember is that they were great, I was blown away, and that they were incredibly energetic on stage.


Setlist:

  • 11 O’Clock Tick Tock
  • I Will Follow
  • MLK
  • The Unforgettable Fire
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • A Sort of Homecoming
  • Bad
  • October
  • New Year’s Day
  • Pride (In the Name of Love)

Encore:

  • Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl
  • Gloria
  • 40

Blue Oyster Cult with Ian Hunter: 8/31/1979

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Growing up, I loved BOC, and this was my first time seeing them live. As a bonus, the show also featured the legendary Ian Hunter (from Mott the Hoople) who also had Mick Ronson on guitar (from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust era). It was a hard-rocker’s dream come true.

Since this show was almost 40 years past, a lot of the details are fuzzy at best. I have impressions, such as Ian with his top hat singing “Cleveland Rocks” as the audience chanted along in rock and roll ecstasy. I recall the Cult’s impressive light show, and banging my head to classic songs like “ETI,” “Cities on Flame,” “Godzilla,” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper” (which was the encore). They also played a rip-roaring version of “Born to be Wild,” which got the South Florida crowd riled.

Throughout the years, I would go to see BOC many more times, and they were always great, but there was something special about seeing them for the first time. It was almost mystical.

My heart is black, and my lips are cold
Cities on flame with rock and roll
Three thousand guitars they seem to cry
My ears will melt, and then my eyes

(Cities on Flame)

Fleetwood Mac: 11/6/1987

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Although I am not 100% sure, I believe this was the last concert that I attended at the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium in South Florida. I’ll see if I have any later stubs as I work through the collection, but if my memory serves me correctly, this was the last one. The Sporto was permanently closed in 1988 and then demolished to build McMansions.

Fleetwood Mac is one of those bands that I really like some of their stuff, and some things not so much. Also, growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I was subjected to more than enough of their music on the radio. Still, I figured it would be worth checking them out, and hey, concerts were still just $17.50 back then.

I was a little disappointed that Lindsay Buckingham was not with them on this tour. I know that the music purists will tell you that the band was never as good as when Peter Green was the guitarist, but Buckingham was no slouch, in my humble opinion. Anyway, they had two guitarists with them on that tour, Billy Burnette and Rick Vito.

I enjoyed the concert, even if the sound was terrible, but concertgoers in South Florida expected that at the Sporto. The high points for me were “Oh Well” and Mick Fleetwood’s amazing drum solo. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t play “Hypnotized,” but it was not that big of a deal. The rest of the show was cool.

I searched online and found the setlist, which I’ve included here. Technology is a wonderful thing. Cheers!


Setlist:

  • Say You Love Me
  • The Chain
  • Dreams
  • Isn’t It Midnight
  • Rhiannon
  • Oh Well
  • Seven Wonders
  • Rattlesnake Shake
  • Everywhere
  • Over My Head
  • Gold Dust Woman
  • Don’t Let Me Down Again
  • Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?
  • I Loved Another Woman
  • Brown Eyes
  • World Turning
  • Little Lies
  • Stand Back
  • You Make Loving Fun
  • Go Your Own Way

Encore:

  • Blue Letter
  • Don’t Stop
  • Songbird

Billy Joel: 3/4/1987

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So, there was something really cool about this concert, I mean, seeing Billy Joel in the 80’s was cool, but something specific about this show. This was actually the third night that he performed at the Hollywood Sportatorium on the tour, and the reason was that the first show sold out in minutes and scalpers bought up a lot of the tickets. So Joel announced he would keep adding shows so that everyone could get tickets and scalpers would get stuck with their tickets. To me, that is the epitome of cool. Billy Joel earned my respect that day and it never wavered.

Anyway, after the first two shows sold out, my girlfriend Ruth and I got tickets to the third concert. She was a huge Billy Joel fan, so it was really exciting for her to see him live.

The concert was excellent. Even in the Sporto, which was notorious for its horrible acoustics, he sounded great. The crowd was engaged and Billy was energetic. And while there were some songs I would have liked to hear that he didn’t play (“Captain Jack” in particular), his set was solid and I left totally happy.

I found the setlist online, so here it is.

Setlist:

A Matter of Trust

Pressure

You’re Only Human (Second Wind)

Piano Man

Scenes From an Italian Restaurant

Allentown

Goodnight Saigon

Prelude/Angry Young Man

Until the Night

Big Man on Mulberry Street

Baby Grand

An Innocent Man

The Longest Time

Only the Good Die Young

It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me

Sometimes a Fantasy

You May Be Right

Uptown Girl

Tell Her About It

Keeping the Faith

Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)

Big Shot

Grateful Dead: 10/25/1985

GratefulDead_10-25-84

This concert has a couple special memories associated with it. To start with, it was the first time I saw the Dead perform “Morning Dew,” which is still one of my all-time favorite Grateful Dead songs. Second, while this was not my first time seeing the Dead, it does mark the first time that I took a road trip to see the Dead. So while this particular show was a “home” show, I was traveling with a few people to Tampa the next day in a rented RV to see the Dead again. So this was essentially the beginning of what would be a long, strange trip indeed.

I went with my girlfriend Lisa, a friend from work, and some other people I really didn’t know. We all chipped in money and rented an RV, which was pretty comfortable. We parked it in the field which served as the parking lot for the Sportatorium and went around buying shirts and stuff from the various parking lot vendors.

The band sounded great! I had a cassette tape from this show and I used to listen to it a lot, remembering the nuances of the show. There were no weak spots, and the “Morning Dew” to open the second set was phenomenal.

After the show, we parked the RV at my friend’s house. Lisa and I slept in the RV and others slept in the house. In the morning, we heading on down the road to the next show at the USF Sun Dome, but that’s another stub and another story.

Here’s the setlist from the Sportatorium show.

Set 1:

Deal
Little Red Rooster
Iko Iko
El Paso
Dire Wolf
It’s All Over Now
Loser
Let It Grow

Set 2:

Morning Dew
Estimated Prophet
Eyes of the World
Drums > Space
I Need a Miracle
Black Peter
Sugar Magnolia

Encore:

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Grateful Dead: 11/26/1980

GratefulDead_11-16-80

This ticket stub is from the first time I saw the Grateful Dead, who would become a major creative influence in my life. I figured it was appropriate to write about this stub today because next week, almost 35 years to the day, I’ll be taking my daughter to see Dead & Company, with surviving band members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann, along with guitarist John Mayer.

I suppose I should first say a little something about the infamous Hollywood Sportatorium. The Sportatorium, fondly referred to as the Sporto or the Sport-hole, was located out in the boonies of what is now the Pembroke Pines area of South Florida. Back then, it was the sticks. You drove past miles of cow pastures on a long road that was only one lane each way until you reached what looked like a huge barn in the middle of nowhere. The parking lot was a mud pit, the acoustics were wretched on a good night, the facilities were poorly maintained, but this was home for concert goers when I was growing up in Miami.

I’d started listening to the Grateful Dead at a young age. I had a friend whose nickname was Ola and he introduced me to the band, making me my first cassette tape that included songs like Morning Dew, Truckin’, and China Cat Sunflower. I started buying records and immersing myself in the music, sitting for hours with my guitar and learning the songs. When I heard that the Dead were coming to the Sporto, I rushed out and grabbed a ticket.

I’m not 100 percent sure, but I am fairly confident that I went with my friends Mark and Dean to this show. What I do remember was the feeling I had when the lights went down and the band came on stage. The band unassumingly walked out and began their tuning session while the audience energy began to build. I felt my heart rate increasing, anticipation crawling over me. Finally, after the short eternity, the band turned and faced the crowd and launched into “Alabama Getaway.” I was so blown away that I nearly fell backwards off the chair I was standing on. From that moment, I was completely hooked.

Years later, when I started collecting tapes of Grateful Dead shows, I acquired a copy of this show, which allowed me to relive the experience of when I first saw the band whose music continues to inspire me today. The tape has long since deteriorated, but thanks to the digital age, I was able to easily find the setlist online. My daughter told me last night that “Friend of the Devil” is her favorite Grateful Dead song. They played it the first time I saw them, so it would be truly special if they play it again next week.

Here is the setlist from the Sporto show, 35 years ago.

Set 1:

Alabama Getaway
Greatest Story Ever Told
Friend of the Devil
On the Road Again
Jack-A-Roe
Minglewood Blues
It Must Have Been the Roses
The Race Is On
Althea
Lost Sailor
Saint of Circumstance
Deal

Set 2:

Cold Rain and Snow
Samson and Delilah
China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Estimated Prophet
Eyes of the World
Drums
Space
Wharf Rat
Around and Around
Good Lovin’

Encore:

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction