Concerts I Have Known: Part 1?

Just recently, the Eagles played a concert at a venue not too far from my office.  When we were married, our first dance was to the Eagles' song, "Love Will Keep Us Alive."  You'd think we might have gone (or tried to go) to this concert, which was part of their "Long Goodbye" tour, but we didn't.  I'm NOT sorry we didn't go.  I AM sorry we didn't go around the time we got married.  Back in the days when Glenn Fry was alive, this would have really meant something to us.  But what is past is past and I can't change that.  (As a side note, I also regret that I didn't go see Kiss when they toured in the 1990s, which would have been an opportunity to see the "original" line up.  Kiss is still touring, but the group I want [wanted to] see is the four original members. Sorry Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer.)

This got me thinking about the concerts I HAVE gone to, or at least the memorable ones.  If I were to consider myself a music fan, I would say that I haven't been to that many concerts, but I do have some strong memories of quite a few.  Now seemed like as good a time as any to share.

If I go way back, I think the very first concert I went to see with a "professional" musician was Jean Pierre Rampal.  (Go ahead and Google.)  If you played flute, this was the guy you wanted to see.  (And you wanted to see James Galway too, but to date I still haven't).  He was giving a performance at my mother's alma mater (Bucknell University) and she took me and a good friend to see him.  The concert was in Rook Chapel and we sat in one of the front pews, right next to Mr. Rampal's "special friend" (a woman who was NOT his wife...that's all I can say.)  He was fantastic, but all he did were classical pieces when I was much more a fan of his work with jazz pianist Claude Bolling.  (Seriously, check out his Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio is amazing.)

My first "real" concert was at Giant Stadium not too long after that.  To show how old I am, back in 1983, after their triumphant reunion concert in Central Park, Simon & Garfunkel did a US tour.  I went with several friends (and a friend's mother as we were not yet drivers).  I don't remember the cost, but it couldn't have been that much and we sat in a lower tier; so not great viewing, but not awful either.  It was my first arena show and I commemorated the event by purchasing a T shirt (that I may actually have hidden somewhere still), that I wore when I went for my driver's test in September of that year.  (I still have my old driver's license and if you look carefully, you can see the Simon & Garfunkel "logo.")

Some of the best concerts I've been to were at Giant Stadium.  It's where I (FINALLY) first saw Paul McCartney. I had always wanted to see Wings, but by the time Paul was touring again in the 1990s, he had a different backing band. (Probably my favorite line up, with the Wings 1979-80 running a close second.)  I am lucky enough to say that I saw Paul McCartney in concert 5 times. (Six if you count his "Up Close" Mtv special which was taped at the Ed Sullivan Theater and I was lucky enough to attend, but that's another story.) The first time at Giant Stadium I went with a "date" who had nosebleed seats and who didn't want to go that night because there had been bad weather during the day. (There was NO WAY I was not going to go.  Miss Paul McCartney?  NO WAY!)  The seats may have been lousy, but the music was AMAZING.  (And I had waited a LONG time for this concert.) I then had slightly better seats when I saw him with a friend in Foxborough Stadium (MA).  When he came back a year or so later, I spent big bucks and got wonderful seats at both Giant Stadium (didn't know it at the time, but my husband was seated not too far away) and Veteran's Stadium (PA). (Where I was able to attend a sound check...somewhere out there is a cassette of that check recorded by a woman who sat next to me.) Of course those were the days when I was young and unmarried and had disposable income.  The last time I saw Paul was at Madison Square Garden and I didn't go with my husband, but with a good friend of ours. We were back in the nosebleed seats and with the continued rise in cost, I will probably never see him in concert again.  (Last time I looked, nosebleed seats cost about as much as floor seats once did.)  The thing I remember most about that concert is that the friend and I took the train in and when the train stopped at our station after the concert, there were all these "young" people blocking the exit and we ended up having to go to the next stop and have someone pick us up and take us back to "our" stop to get my friend's car.

Upon reflection, I've never had much luck with Madison Square Garden.  I saw Phil Collins there in the early 1990s.  I went with the same "date" who took me to see Paul McCartney for the first time.  (I should have known better, but the lure of the concert got me.)  Not being city savvy, I told him he was in charge of transportation and he drove us in.  He didn't park in a garage, which I thought was a mistake, but...We saw Phil  (barely...more nosebleed seats where the most I saw was the top of Phil's balding head) and had a good time until the concert ended and we came out to find that his car had been towed.  I was not surprised, and it was NOT a fun end to the evening.  He managed to get a car service to pick us up (interestingly enough he WORKED part time as a driver) and when he dropped me off at home, I thanked the driver and told my "date" that I would never go out with him again.  (I didn't).  Of course I probably shouldn't have gone out with him period, but...

The Garden State Art Center (now the PNC Art Center, but it will always be Garden State to me) was a great place to see a show in the summer.  (It still may be I just haven't been there in a LONG time.)  My late brother and I saw (sort of) the Monkees (sans Michael Nesmith) from the lawn there in the late 1980s.  (We also saw opening acts Herman's Hermits, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and The Grass Roots.)  I actually SAW the Monkees there again the following summer, after standing online for more than half a day to get tickets to that show, as well as Randy Travis (K.T Oslin was the opener and she stole the show) and Peter, Paul and Mary.  Back then ALL the shows for the summer went on sale at the same time; ensuing tied up phone lines (this was WAY before on line) and the necessity to actually go and stand on line.  I believe I got there around two in the afternoon and didn't actually get up to the ticket window until long after sundown!

I had much better luck with tickets at the Art Center several years later, when on a whim, my brother and I drove down to see if there were any tickets for Elvis Costello (The Mighty Like A Rose tour) just an hour before the show was supposed to start.  We stood on line at the ticket window and were approached by a couple who had 2 extra tickets (friends who cancelled last minute) in the "A" section of the amphitheater. (There were sections, A, B & C and then the lawn) I think we paid ticket price and ended up being pretty close to the action.  THAT was a good night.  I saw one more concert with my brother at the venue; Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band on Father's Day in 1992.  (Timothy B. Schmidt was on that tour so while I never saw the Eagles, I saw AN Eagle?)

As I wrote two paragraphs ago, I saw the Monkees at the Garden State Art Center twice. (The second go around, Weird Al Yankovic was their opening act; now that was INTERESTING.) I saw them at several other venues as well (including Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA when I was still in college).  But I didn't just see them together.  I was (and am) a big fan and saw each of them as solo performers.  As you may know, it was after seeing Michael Nesmith with my husband in 2013, that inspired me to start blogging.  I was lucky enough to see him three times in concert and each and every one holds a special memory for me. 

I saw Davy Jones twice as a solo act at very small venues; one being on the beach (okay, at a bar on a deck OVER the beach) where when he sang "Girl" he looked at me and I melted it.  (It was truly my Marcia Brady moment). I saw Mickey Dolenz at the long-gone Club Bene (I think that was it) where he headlined with a bunch of other acts from the 1960s.  The group stayed at a local hotel and I along with my friend Mary Wilson (no, not THAT Mary Wilson), ended up driving some of them to their hotel.  If I recall correctly, Pat Upton (of Spiral Staircase) ended up in my car...and he was pretty drunk!  (Of course this was a long time ago so I could be wrong...if I knew where Mary Wilson ended up, I could get her to confirm).  I also watched Mickey play polo in Indian Springs, CA, but that's a LONG and really bizarre story.  (And I'd definitely need help from my friend Linda before I posted!). 

Peter Tork was the last Monkee I got to meet.  He and his band (the Shoe Suede Blues) played at a local pub.  My husband took me and we had a fun evening out (so obviously this was way before the kid was born).  I think it's quite an accomplishment that I saw them as a group (minus Nesmith) and as solo acts as they each brought something wonderful and unique to the table.

With that, it seems like a good place to wrap up for now.  (Don't want to bore you too much!)  Stayed tuned for part 2! (Maybe?)


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