concert memoirs pt. 10 - the replacements

The Replacements w/Laughing Stock
7/1/85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

“Someone put ice in his tea.” That’s the reason Paul Westerberg gave for why The Replacements were there that night and not Robyn Hitchcock. Robyn Hitchcock was scheduled, but he didn’t play. We weren’t too upset, though, because it gave us another chance to see the legends.

You will recall the first time John and I saw The Replacements (First Avenue 9/5/84) John had some minor panic issues. This time John and I stood up front and caught the entire show. No panic attacks.

Allow me to digress for a moment, the opening act, Laughing Stock, was a fairly decent local band. They had a little of the REM influence, but a lot of bands did in those days. Laughing Stock was lead by a fellow named Jim Walsh. Jim Walsh has gone on to be a music (among other things) journalist.

He has recently published ‘The Replacements: All over but the shouting - an oral history’. Jim put together various people’s recollections about one of the most important bands in rock history. It’s a good read, especially for fans and those interested in that era of the Minneapolis music scene.

One point made over and over in the book was that the band could be phenomenal in concert. However, they could just as likely be shit. Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar) said that if you saw them ten times, you might see one good show and nine lousy ones.

Well, I can’t say this was a great show, but it wasn’t awful. They weren’t falling down drunk or anything, but they took their time between songs. They appeared to not have a playlist, so they would pause after each song and look at each other trying to figure out what to play next. This didn’t help build any momentum through the show.

It also lead to another problem. Several members of the audience took those pauses as their cue to call out for their favorite ‘Mats tune. One doofus standing right next to me kept calling out, “Go!” It’s possible that he was admonishing the band for their lackadaisical pacing, but I’m fairly certain he meant the song from their second release, ‘Stink’.

One humorous moment that I recall from that show occurred when some audience member called out, “Tommy’s got a boner!” (As you know, the actual song title is ‘Gary’s Got A Boner’ from their album ‘Let It Be’.) Paul heard the shout, gave us a “He does?” look, and walked over to Tommy Stinson. He moved Tommy’s bass away to get a better look. I couldn’t tell if Tommy had a boner or not and Paul didn’t say.

So, John and I saw The Replacements twice. We didn’t get stellar shows, but they weren’t awful. I think the reason we didn’t go see them after the second time was that we weren’t as impressed with their shows as we were with their albums. They were an important band and I’m glad I saw them.

YouTube has a concert they did in the 7th Street Entry on 9/5/81. That’s exactly three years before John and I first saw them play. That concert shows them at their best. They go a little out of tune, but that was their style. Here’s the link to the first part of the 16 part series http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImUwS4IoZhc Check it out. It’s great.


concert memoirs pt. 9 - violent femmes & fleshtones

Violent Femmes w/Summer of Love
6/17/85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $5.00

The bright spot of the night was being able to see that interesting woman who played the cello for Summer of Love. Not exactly a crush, I just thought she was interesting.

The Violent Femmes killed any interest I had for the rest of the evening. To be fair the audience was most responsible for ruining the evening, but the Violent Femmes did their part, too.

They had a couple albums out at that time. Albums that suggested angst, anger, sexual frustration, and some weird Jesus thing. But, their stage presence was a different story. Much different.

So, the Violent Femmes are from our neighboring state, Wisconsin. And First Avenue was packed to gills with Wisconsinites. The main floor was packed. The upstairs was packed. The stairs were packed. The restrooms were probably packed. God damn! It was packed with rubes.

The Violent Femmes finally take the stage to the most tumultuous, resounding applause. The kind of cheering I heard after The Who had completed their outstanding show (St. Paul Civic Center 10/2/82). These guys hadn’t done anything yet and they were treated like rock gods.

John and I had been to a few shows by that time and we had come to expect a little something more for our five bucks. It took more than merely showing up to impress us. John shouted, “Make them earn it!” Unfortunately, the rubes couldn’t hear him.

The Femmes began to play and John and I firgured we should give them a chance. We had paid five bucks, after all. Each song was greeted and sent away with uproarious cheering. John and I did a bit of eye-rolling that night.

After a couple songs, they played some song that had something to do with a flamingo. The bird. The chorus made note of the fact that flamingos stand on one foot. What did these clever rock stars do when they sang the chorus? They stood on one foot! In fact, at one point two of the band members each reached their airborne foot toward the other and touched their feet together.

Holy crap! I swear the rubes all wet their pants. It was so stupid. What a bunch of rubes.

So, then they played into their song ‘Please Do Not Go’ and when they got to the “bye, bye, bye-bye, bye-bye” part the rubes all waved and sang along. We had had enough. We waved bye-bye and left.

Fleshtones w/The Go-Betweens
6/24/85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $5.00

I remember this being a really fun show. The Fleshtones were having a ball playing to us and we were right there with them. Their lead singer scaled atop the speaker stack and sang and danced at us from on high. Very dangerous and very cool.

In the crowd with us was Larry (I don’t remember his last name) the lead singer of local bar band Urban Guerrillas. The Urban Guerrillas were a very fun band themselves. I’ll write about them later. There is scant information about them on the internet, so I had better add some.


concert memoirs pt. 8 - husker du, u2 & husker du

Husker Du w/Laughing Stock
1/30/85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

This was the first of five times that John and I would see this band. We were still not quite ready to join the slam dancing, so we stayed toward the back to observe the craziness. I don’t think it was as violent as the X concert (First Avenue 10/15/84), but according to the MN Daily (the University of Minnesota’s newspaper) it was “loud, fast and furious”.

I was able to consult the MN Daily review (dated 2/1/85 by Steven Perlstein) of the show because of the magic of the internet. The internet is so handy. The reason I wanted to see that review is because I wanted to see if my memory was serving me.

The main thing I recall of that concert is something my art school friend, Gene, did. Gene was quite the committed punk. He had the mohawk and the leather and the boots. And he loved slam dancing and stage diving.

We, John and I and the rest of the art school gang, had been going to the Cabooze for a while by this time. The Cabooze was another Minneapolis club that booked some cool acts in those days. The old art school gang would head down there to see The Urban Guerrillas frequently. The Urban Guerillas were a local favorite that played their own unusual blend of punk, ska, reggae and whatever. We would slam dance to those guys, but it was a more gentle style of slam dancing. And the Cabooze would let people stage dive, while First Avenue wouldn’t.

I’ll write more about The Urban Guerillas later on in this blog series.

Anyway, Gene was at the Husker Du show with Eric, another art school friend, and possibly a couple others whom I can’t remember. When the Huskers took the stage, Gene and his group were at the opposite side of the main floor from John and me. The band just started into it’s first song when Gene (quoting the Daily review) “provided a poignant argument against drugs by leaping onstage, dancing for about 15 seconds, and doing a Greg Louganis-like swan dive into the crowd. What fun.” It was a beautiful stage dive. Gene put his all into it and I’m sure it would have received all 10’s from the judges. Had there been any.

My memory serves! In my outline notes for this series, I had written about the Daily article and had quoted “Greg Louganis-like swan dive”. After 23 years, I still remembered that review. I did, however, spell Louganis wrong.

Gene disappeared after the dive. He had no sooner gotten back to his feet when the First Avenue security staff grabbed him and said, “You’re out, pal!” Gene was booted from the club. He should have waited until later in the show to do his dive, so he wouldn’t have missed the whole thing.

To set the record straight, Gene was not on drugs when he pulled his stunt. He was on the punk rock.

3/19/85 Minneapolis Auditorium w/John & Gene Ticket Price: $13.00

I’m not sure if John And I actually sat with Gene at this show, but he did give us a ride there. I think his seats were elsewhere. At least, John and I got to ride in his way cool Jeep.

U2 were just starting their climb to superstardom. They put on a great show. At one point, Bono asked if anyone in the audience could play guitar. They found some kid and got him onstage to play along with the band for one song. It must have been awfully thrilling and nerve-racking for the kid.

Bono did all his Bono theatrics. He grabbed a baby spot light to shine at the crowd, he wrapped himself in the Irish flag, he walked on water. You know, his usual stuff.

Husker Du w/Die Kreuzen & Process Blue
6/12/85 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Let me just say this right away... Die Kreuzen sucked! Sucked! Sucked! Sucked! They played some brand of crappy metal, hardcore slop. The lead singer couldn’t keep the microphone anywhere near his mouth for more than three seconds at a time. They were boring!

So, there I stood, leaning against the front of the stage, chin in my hand as this lousy band actually managed to slow the passage of time. A young woman, obviously a fan of this dreadfully, awful band, noticed my state of absolute boredom. She gave me a sarcastic “poor baby” look. I refrained from giving her any reaction.

Well, Die Kreuzen finally finished making noise and dragged their talentless asses of the stage. The stench of their horrific appearance was still evident as Husker Du took the stage to clear the air. Interestingly enough, the gal who was unsympathetic of my plight had disappeared once the truly talented headliners began to play.

This was our second time seeing Husker Du and John and I were ready for the slam dancing. It was a blast. Knocking around in the pit, getting aggression out without doing any serious damage to anyone.

My friend, David, had brought a date to a Husker Du concert once. She hadn’t heard of the band before and when she saw them she said they looked like garbage men. Possibly, but what talented garbage men.


concert memoirs pt. 7 - x, the church, red hot chili peppers, general public & let's active

X w/Soul Asylum
10/15/84 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Another show at the famed First Avenue. We were still getting a hang of the place. We were looking forward to seeing Soul Asylum, a local band that had some good buzz. John had heard they did a cover of Sex Pistols’ ‘Bodies’, but they didn’t play it that night.

John remembers some fellow in the crowd shouting, “Loud Fast Rules!” Which, of course, was Soul Asylum's original name.

What I remember is Dave Pirner having difficulty with his guitar strings. He kept breaking them. Normally, musicians play through a string break, but, for some reason, Dave couldn’t do that. He would stop and hand the guitar to the tech and wait for it to be restrung or for another guitar. And the rest of the band stopped playing. It made things appear very amateurish.

That’s how I remember it, anyway.

John and I planted ourselves at the side of the stage and stood on the first level up from the main floor. We were very close to the front, close enough to see behind the screen to watch the folks setting up the stage.

We were at Billy Zoom’s side of the stage. He took his spot behind the still lowered screen, while a couple of gals were peeking under it to catch a glimpse of the stylish guitarist. He would playfully slip the toe his boot out toward them and give the girls a thrill.

We were still a little leery of the slam dancing, so we didn’t venture onto the main floor. This turned out to be a smart decision. As John reminded me, it was a very violent crowd. We had a couple of punks jump past us just to join the scrum. They nearly sent us flying in order to get to the pit.

X was tight and rockin’. I didn’t know much of their stuff, but it was cool to see them.

The Church w/Summer of Love
11/14/84 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

This was my 20th birthday and I didn’t even try to get in free.

You will probably notice that many of the early shows that we attended found me awfully ignorant of a lot of the bands’ music. This was mainly because John and I were just finding these bands, buying some of their stuff and then going to see them right away. After some time we’d learned a lot more about the bands we were seeing. Especially those bands that we would see several times.

The Church is a good example of one of those bands. What I knew of The Church was the song ‘Electric Lash’ and some of their album ‘Remote Luxury’. John bought that album after asking the record store manager about them. She told us that they were “one of your best new wave bands.”


Well, they were very good live. I seem to recall that there was an extra guitarist with the group. Every time that we’d seen them since it was just the four members of the band.

I didn’t know much of what I was hearing, but it didn’t matter. Their material was so good that I liked it immediately. Some bands can do that, but they are rare.

The one thing I remember about Summer of Love, the opening act, is that I was intrigued by the very pretty woman who played the cello.

Red Hot Chili Peppers
11/21/84 First Avenue w/John & Kelly Ticket Price: $2.00

This was waaaay before that annoying, incredibly overplayed Bridge song.

John picked up their first album because it was produced by one of our guitar heroes, Andy Gill. It’s an odd little album and I really dig ‘True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes’. Very funky.

John and I brought our friend, Kelly, along to this one. I’m not sure why. It was a good thing we did though, because the club was pretty empty that night. The Peppers needed all the audience they could get.

I recall Anthony Kiedis saying that the critics thought the band was a joke. “That’s because we are a joke!” was he proud response. Aim for those stars, Anthony!

We hung in there for a few songs and left. I’m not sure if they wore shirts. Probably not.

General Public
11/22/84 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $5.50

John knew this band better than I, but I still enjoyed the show. They played a mix of their current stuff and some of their old English Beat material. General Public was formed by at least two of the members of English Beat, Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling.

Ranking Roger was sporting that striped hairdo and hopping all over the stage. The audience was doing a bit of hopping, too. They really got hopping when General Public played ‘Save It For Later’, the big hit for English Beat.

Let’s Active
11/26/84 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: Unknown

Here’s one of those shows that brings nothing to mind other than I think it was in the 7th Street Entry. It’s not that they weren’t a good band, I just don’t remember anything.


concert memoirs pt. 6 - the replacements

The Replacements w/The Slickee Boys
9/5/84 First Avenue w/John Ticket Price: $2.50

This is a big one. This was the first time John and I stepped foot in the legendary Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue. The month before my friend Paul and I attempted to get in to see The Suburbs. It was sold out, so my first time would have to wait.

How to describe the first time taking in this institution? It was very big, very dank, very dark, and very cool. We’d heard stories about the place. Heard that it had a weird crowd. That men would hit on us.

The crowd wasn’t that weird. Some punks, new wavers, goths, club chicks, but mostly just pretty ordinary-looking people. That is one of the best things about First Avenue, there’s no one sort of crowd. A variety of folks would show up and a good percentage were ok. And I don’t remember any men hitting on us.

First Avenue would soon become the best place for us to see concerts. You will notice that as this series continues that the vast majority of the shows we saw we saw at First Avenue. You can get a good view of the bands and the sound was very good. And First Avenue was always booking excellent acts in those days. Things have changed since then, First Avenue has more competition now and the scene is different.

We sat against the wall along the 7th St. Entry side of the club (That seating area is gone now and has been for years.) for the opening act, The Slickee Boys. I never heard of them before. Their set was pretty brash and loud, but not otherwise memorable.

The Slickee Boys finished up, the big screen lowered, and everyone began to prepare for the critics’ darlings, The Replacements. John and I joined the crowd in front of the stage. Our anticipation was building when...

John had a little freak out.

Maybe it was the fact that he smoked too many cigarettes, maybe it was the growing crowd, maybe it was the bigness of the moment. I don’t know. But John needed space. He felt like he was about to pass out. So, we moved off to the side of the stage where he could get some air.

This was very unusual for John. In fact, I was the one with the history of panic attacks.

The Replacements took the stage. They played. I don’t remember much.

I know what you might be thinking. You might be thinking that I was drunk and that’s why the details about many of these shows are so fuzzy or missing. That is not the case. I didn’t do much drinking at First Avenue ever. That was the place that I went to to see bands and to dance. My heavy drinking was done elsewhere.

Now, The Replacements, on the other hand, were quite often drunk during their sets. However, as I said, I don’t have much else to tell.

I think Bob Stinson wore a dress.


concert memoirs pt. 5 - rush, the psychedelic furs & the pretenders

6/26/84 St. Paul Civic Center w/? Ticket Price: Unknown

I don’t recall who I saw this show with and I haven’t had a chance to ask John about it. He may have been there.

Rush is one of those bands that I liked in my pre-Who enlightenment days. However, they are not one of the bands that I’m embarrassed to say that I liked back then. In fact, I still like some of their stuff. I have ‘Permanent Waves’, ‘Moving Pictures’, & ‘Signals’ in my active listening library. Three great albums back to back to back.

We had main floor seats. This was the only arena concert at we which had main floor seats. (The Clash doesn’t count.) Whenever you attend an arena concert and have main floor seats you can’t help but have to stand on the chairs. Or try. The security guards make you get down for a while, but the crowd in front jump back up. What are ya gonna do?

So, Rush was great. Great sound and a big old screen above the stage to play visual assists during the concert. The best video clip was Count Floyd, Joe Flaherty’s hilarious character from SCTV, doing a bit about how scary the band was. They timed it out perfectly so as to have Alex Lifeson running across the stage as Count Floyd pointed it out. “Look at that man running across the stage! Oooooo, scary!”

This was also the one concert where I noticed the people who are there to assist those fans who might be having a bad trip. On the drugs, don’t you know.

Also, don’t you just hate it when the ticket takers rip the tickets so as to completely obliterate the band name?

The Psychedelic Furs w/Talk Talk
7/28/84 Orpheum Theater w/John Ticket Price: $11.00

Tickets were purchased for this show before John and I had heard any of The Psychedelic Furs' material! It is possible that John may have read some good things about them, but as far as I can remember, we bought tickets because we liked the name of the band. Seriously. We knew more about the opening act, Talk Talk, than about the headliner.

Right after picking up the tickets, John bought The Furs’ latest album, ‘Mirror Moves’ in the cassette format. We listened to it in his car on the way home from gambling our $11.00 each on an unknown band and we were relieved. It’s a really good album.

The show was good, too. I recall ‘Imitation of Christ’ being played. After the show, we sought out more of their albums and found some very good music. We took a chance on a name of a band and it paid off.

The Pretenders w/Simple Minds
8/19/84 St. Paul Civic Center w/John & Steve Ticket Price: $11.00

As part of a big send off for my younger brother, who was about to enter army, John and I brought him along to this show. Thanks for your service, Steve.

In a similar vein as The Clash show we attended, this was a version of The Pretenders. The Pretenders 2.0 if you will. Unlike The Clash, The Pretenders continued to produce good albums after their lineup changes. Their many, many lineup changes. This tour was to promote their very good third album, ‘Learning to Crawl’.

The show was good. Although the seats were a bit far back, we did have a straight on shot of the stage. Again, I don’t have much more than that to tell you.

Oh! Chrissie Hynde’s then husband (or almost husband, they were married sometime in 1984), Jim Kerr’s band Simple Minds opened. They played a short set that was pretty good. I had their album, ‘Sparkle in the Rain’, and really liked their tune ‘Up On the Catwalk’. They played that tune, as well. Woot, woot.


concert memoirs pt. 4 - cheap trick, genesis & the clash

Cheap Trick
11/23/83 Orpheum Theater Intended w/John Ticket Price: $9.92

We didn’t go to this one. As can happen here in Minnesota, a sizable November snowstorm blew in and John didn’t want to chance it. It was awfully disappointing, but I understood. And it was a pretty big storm.

This was during my first year at art school. I hadn’t quite grabbed hold of the punk rock yet, but I was beginning to hear more and more of it. Anyway, the snow began falling during the afternoon class session. I remember my friends saying that it didn’t look good for my getting to the show. Of course, they turned out to be right.

Later that evening, John called me at home to break the bad news. The show went on without us. Rats.

It was the only time I’d ever been snowed out of a concert.

2/7/84 St. Paul Civic Center w/John Ticket Price: $12.50

John and I were seated near one of my art school buds, Gene. He spotted us and came down to chat before the show.

The show kicked off and it was very entertaining. This was just as Genesis was becoming the Phil Collins Band, if you catch my meaning. So, they weren’t annoying yet.

Their lightshow was outstanding and blended well with the music. Phil alternated between playing the drums and singing at center stage throughout the show. He did spend more time up front, though.

I was impressed as hell when Phil got on drums and played along with the other drummer. The two were completely in sync. Amazing how musicians can do that.

Phil was doing the chat up the crowd thing and he started teasing the audience. He was asking if the crowd liked Country & Western music and, of course, they didn’t. “Really? Well, we’re gonna play some.” The crowd was aghast! But then to first notes of ‘That’s All’, their current big hit, began to play and the audience all breathed a sigh of relief, laughed and cheered loudly.

The Clash w/Ipso Facto
5/15/84 St. Paul Civic Center w/John Ticket Price: $11.50

Our first punk rock show!

The stage was moved up to about midway on the main floor and the floor was open so people could get down front for dancin’. Slam dancin’! More on that in a minute.

Ipso Facto was the opening act. They’re a local reggae group and they’re still going strong today. I didn’t know their material, but they were fun and did a great job warming up the crowd.

So, the slam dancing...

The Clash, or what was passing as The Clash in those days, consisted of Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon and two or three young punks. After Mick Jones and Topper Headon had left the band, it was a mistake for the band to continue as The Clash. They produced one more album after ‘Combat Rock’ and it has been justifiably forgotten. That said, however, I’m glad to have seen them or what was left of them.

Since it was an open floor situation, John and I managed to get pretty close to the front of the stage. The floor was crowded with leather, mohawks, anticipation, and two punk rock concert virgins who didn’t quite realize what they were in for. The band took the stage, storming up to the front, while blasting into ‘London Calling’.

That’s about as much as I saw before the punks began to move. The whole mass of humanity that we were caught in began to slam dance. We probably only got through half of the song before John fell to the floor. It had barely registered with me that John had hit the deck when he was back on his feet. He was down, he was up. That quickly.

John grabbed my shoulder, “We’re out of here!” he said. We moved to the seating section and watched the rest of the show from there where it was safe. It was just too soon in our punk rock experience for that level of slam dancing.

Later, Joe Strummer taunted those of us who sought the relative sanity away from the dance floor. John remarked, “Easy for him to say... He’s on stage.”

I didn’t know much more of their material than ‘Combat Rock’ in those days, so when they started playing ‘Clash City Rockers’ I thought they were breaking into a cover of The Who’s ‘I Can’t Explain’. Remember, I was a huge Who fan and I listened to all music through Who-colored headphones, so to speak. Still, the opening chords are remarkably similar to The Who classic.


concert memoirs pt. 3 - aerosmith, jefferson starship, willie nelson & kansas

Aerosmith w/Pat Travers
Early 1983 (?) Met Center w/John Ticket Price: $10.75

This one is pretty vague. I recall that we sat pretty far back, Pat Travers played his hit ‘Boom, Boom (Out Go the Lights)’, and Aerosmith kicked off their set with ‘Back in the Saddle’. This was also that era of Aerosmith in which Joe Perry wasn’t with the group. He was out doing his Project.

That’s it.

Jefferson Starship w/Shooting Star
Early 1983 (?) Orpheum Theater w/Paul Ticket Price: Unknown

This show was intended for the larger venue of the Met Center, but lack of ticket sales (that’s my guess) moved it to the smaller Orpheum Theater. Lack of interest was also the reason John didn’t go and I went with another friend, Paul.

I think I felt somewhat obligated to ask John to this show, because of the previous two we had seen. He wasn’t interested in Jefferson Starship. He was wise.

As I have said before, I liked a lot of crap music in those days and Jefferson Starship’s was some of the crappiest. They were in the midst of their slow descent from ‘White Rabbit’ to ‘We Built This City’. So they weren’t as bad as they would get, but they were pretty lame.

Think Spinal Tap.

Willie Nelson & Family
8/25/83 MN State Fair w/Paul Ticket Price: $3.00

My friend Paul and I were at the great Minnesota get together, checking out the sights and eating the food, when we decided to get tickets to the Willie Nelson show that would be later that night. For many years running, it was traditional for the MN State Fair to have Willie as the first of their Grandstand concerts. We bought bleacher seat tickets on a spur of the moment decision.

It was a fun show opening and closing with ‘Whiskey River’. Well worth the three bucks.

9/3/83 MN State Fair w/group of high school friends Ticket Price: $8.00

Unlike the Willie Nelson Grandstand show, this was a show that we planned on seeing and purchased tickets before heading to the Fair. But, I don’t have much to tell of this Grandstand show. Let me think..... umm..... There were fireworks after the show.


concert memoirs pt. 2 - the who

The Who w/T-Bone Burnett
10/2/82 St. Paul Civic Center w/John & Eric Ticket Price: Unknown

This was a life changing concert for me. I know that sounds dramatic, but it is true. Seeing this show got me big into The Who and that lead me to punk rock which lead me to even more and varied styles of music. At the time I was listening to mostly crap. Journey, Styx, Foreigner, Boston, yuck! (Although, I must admit a soft spot for some of that crap to this day.)

I wasn’t much of a Who fan at the time. I knew who they were, knew a few of their songs. I knew Pete Townshend had some solo stuff out. The Who’s new single ‘Athena’ was getting some airplay. I thought they were ok and that was all.

In fact, I hadn’t planned on going to the show at all. I was even downtown St. Paul right next to the Civic Center (now the Xcel Center, home of the Minnesota Wild) that afternoon. I was at a comic book shop getting my monthly comic book fix. I hopped on the bus to head home. The bus stop was located right in front of the Civic Center. While on the bus I was accosted by a pothead who worked at the same restaurant at which I was working.

“Hey, Man! Are you going to The Who concert tonight?”


“Oh! Man!”


Well, I got home and my mom told me to call John right away. I did. It turned out John had bought three tickets to the show, but he hadn’t anyone to go with. He did get one friend, Eric, to go and I would make it three if I wanted to. I did.

I called the restaurant I was working at and told them I might be a little late for my shift that night. I was working the graveyard shift and I did end up being only about 10 or 20 minutes late. No big deal.

This was The Who’s North American Farewell tour and I was glad to risk being a little late for work to see them, because they’d never tour again. Riiight.

This was also the tour that saw The Clash opening some of the shows, but not this one. We got T-Bone Burnett. We had no idea who he was or what he was doing. He did a guitar solo consisting of him plucking one note at one part of the stage and then walking to another part and pluck another note. He did that a few times.

John and I have talked about how we regretted not getting The Clash as the opening act, but if we had seen Burnett after we’d begun exploring and appreciating new kinds of music we might have enjoyed his act more. In doing some research for this blog I found that it was likely Mick Ronson (who had played with David Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust days) was with Burnett’s band at the time. I saw a legend and didn’t even know it until now.

Speaking of legends, there was a headlining act, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, The Who. As I said, this was to be their last North American tour and they were promoting their latest album, ‘It’s Hard’. Not a perfect album, it’s no ‘Quadrophenia’ or ‘Who’s Next’ and it does lack the maniac Keith Moon, but it’s not as bad as the critics were making it out to be.

I attended the first night of a two night concert stop in St. Paul. And it was loud. It may be the loudest show I’ve ever seen or, certainly, one of the loudest. Both shows were sold out, packed with boisterous Who fans and I got caught up in it. I found myself shouting and whistling as loud as I could. Cheering for Pete in particular. I’m not sure why, but a connection to Pete Townshend was formed that night and it has never been broken.

I wondered if they would play any of his solo material. They didn’t. It was a Who concert after all. They also didn’t play ‘Athena’, their minor hit at the time. They did, however, feature four or so other songs off ‘It’s Hard’. They played the great song ‘Eminence Front’ and Roger played guitar on this tour. Something he hadn’t done since he took over lead vocals back in the days when they were The Detours.

Their light show featured three sets of spotlights. One set on either side of the stage and one at the back of the main floor. Aimed straight up, they would twirl around and open and close, casting bright white beams of light to the heavens (well, the ceiling of the Civic Center anyway).

Another fun feature of the show was the glow sticks that were sold to the fans. People starting tossing the green glowing objects over the audience’s heads. They looked pretty cool as they sailed over us. Even better was when some fans realized that if they used a lighter (a must have item at concerts) to melt a hole in the plastic container and then throw it high above the crowd, the glowing liquid would sprinkle out. This made for a very fun effect.

John remembers a very lame attempt by me to throw one of the melted glow sticks, spilling the liquid on myself and him. I don’t recall that, but that’s what John remembers.

The Who concert weekend was a pretty big event judging by the excited talk at school that following Monday. It was truly a major event in my life. I was transformed into a monster Who fan. I bought all their albums and bought and read books about them. I was all about The Who and Pete Townshend.

I’ve mellowed some, but not much.