A couple of weeks ago, I made a list of all of the concerts that I’ve been to in my life. Doing that started me thinking about the collection of mental screenshots I have for each one (some I can share, others – some other day); here’s a few for you:
1. Elton John did five encores at the Forum 1n 1975, and changed his outfit for each one – one of his most memorable costumes was a white sequined jumpsuit and a pink feather boa, with white sequin platform shoes. My first concert, and I was hopelessly hooked on rock and roll – my attraction started about three years before with the Beatles, and seeing Elton John resulted in a full-blown obsession.
2. We waited in line for twelve hours to see Frank Zappa at the Long Beach Arena on New Year’s Eve, and even though we were among the first dozen or so to get in, we still ended up in the balcony. Zappa seemed a little bored, or irritated, or both; at midnight, he said, “Happy New Year” in a monotone, while everyone else was going crazy. Oh, and our ride took off sometime in the afternoon, and never came back; we were lucky enough to find someone that we knew with a car who gave us a ride home at about 3 a.m.
3. During the Blues Brothers concert at the Universal Ampitheatre, John Belushi was introducing the band, and when people didn’t clap enough, he said “C’mon, lame-ohs,” resulting in uneasy laughter from the audience. Later, after he had overdosed, and I read more about what led up to his death, I realized that he was probably whacked out of his mind on drugs. (I don’t know for sure, just speculation on my part….you make the call.) And Steve Martin, at the peak of his “Wild and Crazy Guy” white suit and banjo period? Have you ever laughed so hard that you couldn’t breathe?
4. During the Peter Frampton concert at the Anaheim Stadium (what’s it called now? Angel Stadium?), fans were so crazy , that during his act, they jumped up and down so hard on the upper level that we could see it moving. I was really more interested in watching the upper level shimmy than in PF (no judgment; I think sitting so far away from the stage put me out of the mood for the talk box experience, although I will listen to Frampton today with no hard feelings). There were a couple of acts before Peter Frampton – Gentle Giant? Gary Wright? And Yes was the headliner; by the time they came on, I was ready to call it a night.
5. A fight broke out between a concertgoer and a bouncer in between acts at the Doobie Brothers concert at the Long Beach Arena; the bouncer, who was twice the size of the fan, told him, “Oh, I’ll be seeing you after the show,” then sat down in his seat near the stage, and glared up at the guy all night. Don’t know what happened to the guy, but I’m guessing it couldn’t have been the ending to the night that he was hoping for.
6. I am positive that I spotted Senator John Tunney during the intermission at the Wall show; my friend thought that I had lost it, which considering we were seeing Pink Floyd, wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. The set also caught on fire during the show, and the band had to have a do-over on one song (can’t recall which one). “The Wall” was one of the most overwhelming shows I think I’ve ever seen – I had no idea that it would be so significant at the time, just that it was Pink Floyd, and that I was going to see something amazing…thirty-one years later, amazing doesn’t begin to cover it.
7. X was an outdoor show on the field at Cal State Long Beach, right about where the parking office and the parking structure are today. It was a free-seating show, and a bunch of us were standing around and dancing, when I was knocked to the ground – some girl who was on some guy’s shoulders fell off and fell on my head. No harm, no foul, and the band played on…
8. When Bob Dylan sang his first song of the night, I realized that not only did I not recognize the song, but that I couldn’t understand any of the words that were coming out of his mouth. Then I thought, “Is he purposely doing this so that the people who really like him will stay, and the ones who don’t get it will leave?” Doesn’t that sound like something Dylan might do?
9. I won free tickets to see the Rolling Stones at the Staples Center in 2003. The Stones played for two and a half hours, and were fantastic. This band, at the average age of 60, had the ability to reach out and grab my heart and soul and make me dance in my seat at the other end of the arena. The Stones are the masters – and that’s a fact.
10. Social Distortion opened for Neil Young – I had seen them once before, in front of the Student Union at Cal State Long Beach when I was a student (1989? It was a free concert, and I had instant love for the band), and had no idea that they were going to be playing on this night. When they were announced, I went berserk – the best part was these guys sitting behind us who were only there to see Neil Young, and who kept yelling rude things, “Get off the stage! You suck!” This only served to make me yell louder to drown them out, “Whoooooo!!!!” “All right!” “Yeah, baby!”
Yeah, baby, yeah!