I once ambitiously thought I might put together a post listing my top rock shows but never got around to it. I'll leave that to the likes of The Noiseboy. Instead, I decided to write up all the shows I saw through 1987 because why the hell not? Get ready for some serious Huey Lewis freaking out.
Beatlemania, Late 70's
Like many kids, I was obsessed with The Beatles for a good long time. Luckily for me, my obsession was timed well and I got to go see the original touring Beatlemania - the fantastic Beatles tribute show. My dad took me to see it at Warner Theatre in Washington and I was besides myself with glee. I don't remember how old I was but this must have been around 1978 or '79. My souvenir program was a prized possession for years. Around this time, my mom bought me a paperback of all the Beatles lyrics. I carried it around with me and recited the lyrics to anyone who would listen. I still pity poor Conrad in 1st grade daycare who I would read lyrics to and make him guess the name of the song. I'm sure I scarred that kid for life.
Sha Na Na/Dr. Hook, 1979
I consider this my first real concert. I think it was in Constitution Hall in DC. I was obsessed with Sha Na Na at the time. In fact, I was kind of obsessed with all things 50s. Between Sha Na Na's TV show, Happy Days, and Grease, It was a glorious time of 50s nostalgia in the late 70s. In particular, I was obsessed with Bowzer and often tried to imitate him. I'd roll up my sleeves, wet my hair, make a muscle and open my mouth wide. Man, I was a weird kid. It was also during this time that I wanted to be called Danny rather than Daniel because of Danny Zucco from Grease. I also was desperate to learn how to make a jukebox start by hitting it like the Fonz did.
I remember being super tired and bored with Dr. Hook so I took a short nap underneath my parents' seats. And then I rocked it for Sha Na Na. 50s hit after glorious 50s hit. And when they closed with Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite like they closed out every TV show, I was besides myself with glee.
Rick Springfield, 1982
My first real rock show. The summer of '82 was one big lovefest of all songs Rick Springfield. I loved Don't Talk to Strangers. I loved Jessie's Girl. The 1-2 punch of 1981's Working Class Dog and 1982's Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet had Springfield on top of the world.
He was my first favorite rock star that I discovered myself as opposed to learning about him through my dad. Stone Groove scored us 2nd row seats at Merriweather Post. I'll never forget this show. 2nd row! Greg Kihn opened. I only knew one of his songs - his only hit at the time The Break-up Song (They Don't Write Em) but it was great.
The crowd was pumped for Rick. And he delivered the goods, preening and strutting for the teenyboppers the entire time. And then he jumped into the crowd. And then he was right in front of me. And then the teenage girls next to me and behind me were all over me trying to reach Rick. And he was sweating all over me. What the hell was going on? Pure early 80's rock star brilliance is what was going on.
Peter, Paul, and Mary
Crosby, Stills, and Nash
The Everly Brothers, all early to mid 80's
I don't remember much about these shows at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I remember seeing all three with my parents. I remember all the hippies at Crosby, Still, and Nash and Peter, Paul, and Mary. My dad reminded me that I said that the Everly Brothers didn't sound good anymore. I remember Paul or Mary inviting fans to come up onstage after the show to say hi and to get autographs. I was one of the first to get up on stage and then Peter yelled at me to get the hell off. Apparently, he didn't know that fans had been invited. Either that or he hated little Jewish suburban boys.
Men at Work, 1983
By the summer of '83, I had moved onto Men at Work. A good choice. I had moved from the teenybopper favorite to a more cerebral brand of rock.
Stone Groove had the chance to get us the same 2nd row seats that we had had the year before for Rick Springfield but said that his ears were still ringing from that show. I still haven't forgiven him for this transgression. However, he was quite happy that we were 30 rows back when the unanticipated feedback during Be Good Johnny happened. He would not have been able to handle that. The show was great. The band was huge. Too bad that they didn't put another album out for three years and by that point, no one cared.
In the summer of '83, I was only a few months away from the album that would change my life.
Huey Lewis and the News, 1985
My first time hearing the News live. And I was ready. 5th Grade had been a tough year. I was at a new school and I found it hard to find my place at first. Every single day I'd come home from school miserable and I'd put on the A side of Sports. After hearing The Heart of Rock n Roll, Heart and Soul, Bad is Bad, and I Want a New Drug, I was always in a much better mood.
I couldn't get enough of Sports. I couldn't get enough of Huey. I had all of his videos. I had a concert on video as well. I watched those Beta tapes over and over and over. My soon to be 2-year-old sister knew how to sing Huey songs. Huey!
I had missed Huey the summer before at Merriweather because I was at sleepaway camp. By the summer of '85, things were a bit better at school but my obsession with Huey had not abated. In fact, it was probably at its peak. The summer of 85 was the summer of The Power of Love. The summer of Back to the Future. The summer to finally see Huey Lewis and the News.
The show was perfect. Hit after glorious hit. And when he did his whole "You've just heard the News" bit and jumped off the stage with Chris Hayes and Johnny Colla during Workin' For a Livin', I could barely breathe.
John Fogerty, 1985
Great show but should have been much better. Fogerty was in the midst of a battle over CCR songs with his old label so he wasn't performing any of them. Still, he pretty much did all of Centerfield so that was good enough. Yet another show at Merriweather.
The Four Tops, mid 80's
I don't remember much about this other than my parents and I went to a Bullets game at the Capital Centre just so we could see the postgame concert by the Four Tops. This was the last time I've gone to an NBA game.
Bruce Hornsby and the Range, 1986
I remember being kind of bored by this album but his ties to Huey were enough to make me want to see him live. My friend Ben and his older sister got tickets for this midweek show at Warner Theater in DC. Somehow, I convinced my parents to let me take the subway into the city to go see this show without them. This was my first ever show without my parents and I wish it hadn't been so lame.
Huey Lewis and the News, 1987
Fore! had just come out and Huey was the biggest thing going. Tickets went onsale for his Capital Centre show on a weekday morning. I had some sort of mellow PE class that day and was able to call on the pay phone right outside of the gym over and over again for close to an hour. Finally I got through and armed with my dad's credit card, I ordered tickets. However, by the time I had gotten through, the best I could get were seats behind the stage. No matter. I had to see Huey.
The show was great of course. It wasn't that bad behind the stage considering how close we were to it. Huey did a good job coming back to us occasionally. Thanks Huey. Stone Groove bitched the entire time that the crowd never sat down during the concert. This turned out to be the last concert I saw with him for years. In fact, I don't think we saw a show together again until we saw Roger McGuinn at the Birchmere in '93 - a show where the Groove could sit.
The spring of 87 was the time I fully fell in love with R.E.M. In fact, my love for this band probably deserves its own post so I'll save it for later.
Document was released in the fall right as I started 9th grade. They played a show at The Patriot Center and I desperately wanted to go. My friend William had a car but my parents were hesitant to let me go. Eventually I persuaded them but by the time I got tickets, the best that I could do was in the next to last row. No matter. It was a great show. They did a couple of songs from Chronic Town, a fun cover of Lou Gramm, all the hits, and I got high from the rising pot smoke.
10,000 Maniacs opened and Stipe came out to duet on A Campfire Song. I bought a great concert T-shirt that I wore for years until it completely fell apart. I really wish this had been my first rock experience without my parents but I guess I'll always have my Mandolin Rain memories of Bruce Hornsby.
4 days ago