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The 10 Greatest Concerts

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I suppose everyone eventually cleans out their desk. Mine was filled with old bills, ex-girlfriend telephone numbers and pens without ink. While cleaning this mess, I ran across a three-inch stack of old concert tickets. Wrapped with a rubber band, these paper stubs amazingly dated back to 1977.

It was 26 years ago when I saw my first concert, and I will never forget that incredible night. I saw a man smoking a joint for the first time. That was cool. And I saw Kiss, touring to promote their Love Gun album. I also saw this unknown band in the warm-up act slot. They were named Styx, whose only hit at the time was “Lady.”

For me it was history. After that rare night of freedom, I obsessively tried to go to every concert traveling through town. This peculiar obsession was materially noted as I kept every ticket stub from shows good or bad (did I really have to see Pat Benatar?!) with religious fervor.

I’m not sure if the concert experience is the same as it was 20 or even 10 years ago. I think MTV has a lot to do with that. I think the popular cable channel has damaged the mystery of great bands, essentially dispelling the excitement of seeing new acts up close.

I inspected the preserved stubs, and it was like thumbing through old stacks of childhood photographs. They were faded, some stained by water from rain and a few marked by mud or beer. These ticket stubs were indeed photographs from the past. Oddly, I could remember every concert almost as if they happened yesterday.

What follows, indulgent I’ll admit, is a list of the 10 greatest concerts I’ve ever seen.

10. Elton John – Oct. 10, 1980, Reunion Arena, Dallas, TX
It’s easy to dismiss Sir Elton these days, he of the chubby facade and hair extensions. I cannot recall if he was touring for a new album or not, hell, he has so many. But this night, he was not quite so middle aged. This night, he was adorned in white leather suit, red elevator shoes and sunglasses, and a white leather beret. This night, he and his extraordinary band opened with “Funeral for a Friend.” The stage was bathed in darkness during the moody number, and then suddenly exploded in light as they ripped into “Love Lies Bleeding.” Sir Elton, sitting (and often standing) at a grand piano, never let up, playing “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Bennie and the Jets” and “Tiny Dancer.” It was not a typical concert. But Sir Elton was never your typical rock star.

9. The Cars – Oct. 12, 1981, Reunion Arena, Dallas, TX
Maybe The Cars were in it for the money. Maybe they scored enough hits to retire in luxury. But on this tour to promote their third album Panorama, they played with memorable passion. The two-hour set included one hit after another, their fusion of New Wave, rock and pop undeniably cool. The Cars introduced suburban Dallas kids to New Wave fashion for the first time. They opened with “Shoo Be Doo,” each member coming on stage individually to great applause. But the loudest ovation was saved for Ric Ocasek, the wiry, extremely odd creative force behind this Boston band. He was the last to appear, the music abruptly halting for a few strategic seconds. Then, as one, The Cars ripped into “Let’s Go,” one of the great cruising tunes of the 1980s. The Cars may not make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but on this night they gave a Hall of Fame concert.

8. Nick Cave – Oct. 5, 1990, The Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
How does one define Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds? Part goth, part lounge singer, part David Bowie, part Leonard Cohen. Nick Cave broods with the best of them. He converted me on this night, playing before a jaded alternative LA crowd, he eventually insisted, “Get out of your seats man, you’re making me nervous.” He came back for three splendid encores, including his peculiar classic, “The Weeping Song,” from the brilliant The Good Son album. He and his band, adorned in gray retro suits and bolo ties, looked like a gang from a Tarantino film. And they never cracked a smile. An Australian import, Nick Cave rarely tours the States. If memory serves, he has only been through Texas once. But I caught him on the coast, and I’ll never forget it.

7. The Gun Club – Sept. 10, 1985, The Continental Club, Austin, TX
Jeffrey Lee Pierce, we miss you my friend. Born most likely in a forgotten trailer park, he sprang seemingly out of the swamps of Louisiana with his band The Gun Club. They released one of the greatest albums of all time Fire of Love. Punk rage, blues despair and smoked psychobilly, Pierce lived life like a voodoo shaman, and left this world at the young age of 37. I was lucky enough to experience him at one of Austin’s oldest venues, The Continental Club. It was packed, sweaty and smoky. I remember seeing Pierce before the show, hanging with friends in the restroom, dabbling in illegal substances. But on stage, in wrinkled black suit, tangled blond hair, cigarette dangling from smirking lips, he blazed through “Sex Beat,” “She’s Like Heroin To Me” and “Ghost on the Highway” with amazing reckless abandon. He lived life to the fullest. And on stage, it was a life like no other.

6. The Rolling Stones – Oct. 31, 1981, The Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
Believe it or not, there was a time when The Rolling Stones were actually cool. This tour in 1981, promoting their last great album Tattoo You, was in many ways the end of an era. They were still young enough to write good songs like “Start Me Up,” but just old enough to be respected and awed. This was one of the great concerts in Dallas history (The Fabulous Thunderbirds and ZZ Top opened the show), played before a sold out crowd of 90,000. The masses got their money’s worth, as The Stones opened with “Under My Thumb” and closed with “Satisfaction.” In between, all present were drenched by a huge thunderstorm, but the band kept on playing. Mick Jagger, at one point, clothes soaked, hair matted, said into the cordless microphone, “I believe we are going to have to build a fucking ark.”

5. Tears For Fears – Nov. 10, 1985, Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, TX
Tears for Fears came and went so quickly in the 1980s, that’s it hard to remember they even existed. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith had not yet begun their squabbling when they performed this sold out concert in 1985. At the time, their mega album Songs From the Big Chair was No. 1 on the charts. This concert was also broadcast live over national radio. The talented European New Wave/Pop band played all of their hits in one of the tightest concerts I’ve ever seen. But the crowd reaction, which stunned even the band members, was incredible. This is the only concert I have ever seen where the screaming from the audience was so loud that it actually hurt my ears. It gave me an idea what it must have been like to have seen The Beatles.

4. Youth Brigade – Sept. 20, 1983, Club Foot, Austin, TX
Attending college outside of Austin, I saw quite a few hardcore bands from the early 80s including The Misfits, Minor Threat, TSOL, The Big Boys and The Butthole Surfers. But none matched the energy and talent of this Los Angeles trio, performing during the last days of the storied punk venue Club Foot. Known for their fist-pumping, pure hardcore songs including “Sink in California,” “Fight to Unite” and “Men in Blue,” Shawn, Mark and Adam Stern redefined American punk by being a band that actually had something to say. Ironically, they were more popular in Europe than in the States. A short-lived career, Youth Brigade proved on this night in a fantastic no-frills, hard-edged show, they were the greatest American punk band of this era.

3. X – Nov. 13, 1982, The Hot Klub, Dallas, TX
To call X the purest rock band of all time would not be an exaggeration. Touring on the heals of their third album Under the Big Black Sun, which followed the incredible classics Los Angeles and Wild Gift, this punk/rock/country/rockabilly foursome set the stage on fire with a furious set in a seedy building seemingly without air conditioning. Enormously talented during their prime, John Doe, Exene, Billy Zoom and DJ Bonebrake hammered through their classics including “The World’s A Mess It’s In My Kiss,” “Beyond and Back” and “Johny Hit and Run Paulene.” I never really understood what rock music was about until I saw X on this unforgettable, furious night.

2. Cheap Trick – June 21, 1980, The Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
What it was about this concert on this sticky summer night, I am still not entirely sure. Cheap Trick was just one of many bands performing in the annual Texxas Jam, a huge Woodstock-like affair with 6-7 bands playing back-to-back. On this boiling day, Cheap Trick shared the stage with April Wine, Foreigner, Sammy Hagar and The Eagles. Amazingly, Cheap Trick stole the show. Playing at sunset, this rock/pop band performed an incredibly tight concert, opening with “Gonna Raise Hell,” and continuing with “Surrender.” It’s the only concert I can recall where a band never rested between songs. They furiously went into each song without stopping, keeping up a furious pace in 100-degree weather, confident, cocky, in love with performing before 100,000 sunburned, beer-soaked fans. The time, the place, and how they so effectively rendered the rest of the lineup irrelevant was an amazing moment to witness.

1. The Clash – June 6, 1982, Bronco Bowl, Dallas, TX
One of the greatest bands of all time, The Clash were Gods to me in the midst of their final tour during the summer of 1982, promoting their Combat Rock album. I remember being amazed by Joe Strummer’s energy. Adorned in combat fatigues and Mohawk, Strummer ran out onto the stage and ripped into “London Calling” and “Know Your Rights.” On the floor, very close to the stage, I watched Strummer, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon angrily play one punk classic after another, their sweat spraying the audience, intense, pissed and alive. They closed the frenzied show with “I Fought the Law” and “Go Straight to Hell.” I knew then, as I know now, I was witnessing rock history. The Clash never toured again, and now that Strummer is gone, they sadly never will. Whenever someone asks me about the greatest concert I’ve ever seen, without hesitation I always say The Clash. This was THE band. They were alternative greatness, raw, unique, talented, powerful. To this day, like Woodstock survivors waxing nostalgic over Jimi Hendrix’s dawn performance of the “Star Spangled Banner,” I am proud to say, “I fucking saw The Clash.”

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About Chris Wilson

  • HW Saxton Jr.

    Chris, Interesting post. I’ve seen The
    Gun Club 4 times and Jeffrey Lee once as
    an acoustic solo act (GRRRRREEAAT!!!).
    They could put on a great show for sure.
    Jeffrey was from El Paso by the by.

  • Chris Kent

    Was going by memory and could have sworn I read Pierce grew up in Lousiana. El Paso aye? Interesting.

  • HW Saxton Jr.

    Chris, on the “Miami” LP he talks about
    his childhood on a song called “Texas Serenade”.I could share info on Pierce
    with you should you want to e mail some time.With all due respect to Jeffrey,I’d
    rather not plaster crazeeeeee (but TRUE)
    stories about the cat all over the net.
    I’ve partied with him in Las Vegas! and L.A. and anything you’ve heard about him
    is probably true,only understated LOL!!!

  • Chris Kent

    Here’s some Gun CLub stuff I just picked up. Louisiana reference obviously mistaken. My apologies:

    Jeffrey Lee Pierce was born June 27, 1958…..in Montebello, California (East of Los Angeles) and also lived in El Monte, and Reseda, California. In his late teens, he became a fixure at many Hollywood clubs and soon was writing for various fanzines including SLASH magazine….he would write reviews of gigs as well as bands. He was a huge fan of Blondie and became the president of their fan club as well.Inspired by bands like X, Television, the Cramps, he met Kid Congo Powers and insisted he learn guitar, and they formed the Creeping Ritual in 1980-81….the name changed to Gun Club after a suggestion by the Circle Jerks’ Keith Morris….Jeffrey’s longtime friend, then-roommate.
    The band played regularly at the L.A. clubs including Cathay De Grande, Madame Wongs, Starwood, Whisky etc…..building up a following and a repertoire of songs that would become the first album FIRE OF LOVE in 1981,one of the first releases on Slash Records, born out of the ashes of the magazine.
    Their early performances featured a crazed Jeffrey Lee flying around the stage, screaming, falling, rambling and generally amazing the crowd with his antics. Gun Club’s influences at that time were old blues like Robert Johnson from where they re-created “Preachin’ the Blues” and other ancient songs like “Cool Drink of Water” by Tommy Johnson and “Fire of Love” by Jody Reynolds. Encompassing other sounds including rockabilly, country,and swampy soul, they created a new sound not heard before, and which spawned many imitators in the cow-punk arena. By this time,the Cramps had witnessed their greatness and ended up stealing Kid Congo for their own uses- so he did not appear on Fire of Love, but instead on the Cramps’ own Psychedelic Jungle of 1981.

  • HW Saxton Jr.

    Chris, This makes a lot of sense since
    Gary(Kid Congo)was also from around the
    El Monte area. During a drinking spree
    w/Jeffrey Lee one night in Las Vegas(my home)I introduced him to my then GF,this
    girl named Rosie. She is half Apache and
    half Mex. JL started telling me how she
    reminded him of his mother in El Paso TX
    who was a bit of a slut in his own words
    honestly.I asked him about the song “TX
    Serenade’and he started telling me about
    his living there,what a hellhole it was,
    how all the mountains here in the desert
    around S.Nevada reminded him of El Paso
    and so on.Of course,we were at a shitty
    dive bar chugging down Margaritas by the
    pitcher,eating Percodans and snorting up
    blow at the time,so it is possible that
    he was bullshitting about some of it.He
    seemed quite sincere though.He could put
    on an incredible show though when he was
    inspired to do so.I once saw him(The Gun
    Club that is)do a 10-minute medley of:
    “Bo Diddley Is A Gunslinger/Walking With
    The Beast” that left everyone just plain
    dumbfounded,even him I think.Intense guy
    to be sure.Do you have the Gun Club CD
    collection on ‘Sympathy For The Record
    Industry’??? It’s called “Early Warning”
    and it has some great solo acoustic jams
    Blues stuff and other goodies on it.Well
    worth picking up,for sure for sure.

  • Chris Kent

    I do not have that CD, but thank you for recommending it. I will definitely pick it up. I’ve found myself this evening listening to all of this old stuff that I have not listened to in a while. Amazing what a bit of cleaning (and writing) will do….I discovered the Gun Club site only after writing this blog, and have been able to figure out the lineup playing the night I saw them. I remember reading Pierce’s obit when he died, it was just a paragraph in the Dallas newspaper, and immediately recalled the greatness of that concert in Austin. He was a unique talent, and my college friends and I all listened to the Fire of Love album with great admiration.

  • Agentsmith

    Chris great post and you are a lucky guy!

    Any idea if any of these concerts made it to DVD?

  • Chris Kent

    Thanks Agentsmith,

    That’s a good question. I know the Rolling Stones put out a video Let’s Spend the Night Together of their 1981 tour. I believe it was directed by Hal Ashby. There’s quite a few bootlegs floating around of those Texxas Jams, most specifically Aerosmith’s concert in 1979. There’s a fantastic documentary on X filmed during that tour called The Unheard Music. The rest I would have to do a search on.

  • Chris Kent

    Additional DVDS:
    The Cars Live – Musikladen 1979
    Classic Albums – Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
    Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – God Is in the House
    The Clash – Westway to the World
    Cheap Trick – Live in Australia

  • HHHMMM… my top 10 of the thousands of shows I’ve seen. Based on quality of performance, sound and light, band and audience energy all working as one I have come up with:

    1) 10cc at Paramount Theater (Seattle) 1977

    2) Led Zeppelin at Seattle Center Coliseum 1972 (not the mud shark evening…)

    3) Chubby Checker at the El Paseo Theater in Santa Fe 1986

    4) Rolling Stones at the Kingdome, Seattle 1981

    5) Burning Spear at the Kilamonjaro in Washington CD 1985

    6) Public Image Ltd at the Showbox in Seattle 1981?

    7) X-15 at WREX in Seattle 1981

    8) Monkees at the Seattle Center Coliseum 1967

    9) Grateful Dead at Seattle Center Arena 1978?

    10) Oh gosh, it is all quite subjective….

  • duane

    I’m way too old to remember the dates. Here goes:

    (1) Queen (Santa Monica, CA)
    Touring A Night at the Opera, when they were still good. The absolute best live show I have ever been to. Total power mixed with Mercury’s unique class. No “Do you feel all right?” nonsense. He knows how to talk. Fourth row seats. Perfect.
    (2) Yes (Long Beach, LA, San Diego, Concord Pavilion, CA)
    I love these guys.
    (3) King Crimson (The Wiltern, LA, CA)
    Double trio configuration. The band I fantasize about being in.
    (4) PFM (The Roxy, LA, CA)
    Stunning. Italian!
    (5) Todd Rundgren’s Utopia (The Roxy, LA, CA)
    (6) Bill Bruford Band (The Roxy, LA, CA)
    (7) van Halen (The Golden West, Norwalk, CA)
    Before they hit it really big. Opening for UFO. Eddie just lit the place up.
    (8) Billy Cobham (The Roxy, LA, CA)
    (9) Rolling Stones (Long Beach Arena, CA)
    Mick Taylor days.
    (10) Frank Zappa (Forum, LA, CA)


    Thin Lizzy, Peter Frampton, Blue Oyster Cult, Kiss, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, BB King

    I wish I had seen:

    Pink Floyd, Genesis, Bowie, Prince, Allman Brothers, U2, Magma, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Tears for Fears

  • Duane, of course people like you would come along and remind me of a bunch of others that could be in my top 10.

    You’ve seen PFM? Way mass cool. I was into them. But never saw.

    Oh, I did see Mahavishnu Orchestra! Paramount Theater, Seattle. Thanx for the reminder. The ‘Between Nothingness and Eternity’ tour. The tour they made the live album off of. John Mc, Billy Cobham, Jan Hamer, etc…. Put that in my top 5 (see above)

    Oh yes, Frank Zappa, Paramount 1975. Killer show.

    Saw Genesis 1977. It was cool, at the Paramount (a 3000 seat proper theater). Some promoter put some artists (Genesis, Clapton, G-Dead) in this theater when they normally would have played the basketball arena.

    King Crimson, never saw. At least I did attend a Robert Fripp ‘frippetronics’ lecture touring for the ‘Erasure’ solo album.

    Anyway, you have great taste.

  • Sandra Smallson

    No room for Michael Jackson, Madonna(especially the Girlie Show, 1993), Prince, Cranberries, Bonjovi and U2? Well, I never! What sort of lists are these? Are we all on the same page with what a concert is supposed to offer?:) Just kidding. It’s clearly very subjective and depends on who you want to go and see anyway. I would add Jill Scott to my list. I do not have the memory banks this morning to write a full list.

    However, It’s my view that you don’t know what a concert is till you’ve attended one by the first three names I mentioned, but hey, thats just my street and not the whole world’s.

  • Chris Kent

    Douglas, that’s an impressive list. I wish I could have seen Led Zepplin and Grateful Dead….never did unfortunately. I saw PIL twice and almost included them on my top 10.

    Duane, wish I could have seen Thin Lizzy. They are one of my fav bands from that era. I saw David Bowie in 1982. It was a huge arena show in Houston promoting his “Let’s Dance” album. It was good, but not great.

    Sandra, saw Prince for the “Love Sexy” tour in 1989 (?) I believe. He spent most of the time sitting at a grand piano and I was very disappointed…….though I hear his concerts are usually great.

  • Sandra Smallson

    I can’t remember the name of Prince’s stadium concert in the UK but it was fantastic.

    I agree with you that when you go to a concert the last thing you need is the Artist sitting behind a Piano or just standing infront of a mic in one dress or the other carrying out verbal acrobatics (mariah Carey/Whitney Houston)..you might as well watch the vid on VH1 or go to church and listen to the choir.

    Prince is generally a great entertainer and you find that the Artists who put on the best shows are often those who are not only musically entertaining but performance wise are creative geniuses and know how to make spectacular use of every bit of the stage. They truly give u everything LIVE and a CONCERT in every definition of the word.

    I have no financial limit when it comes to going to watch my top three.

  • Roger

    I agree. Prince was on the NBC Today show a couple of mornings ago. He raely gives an interview. He started out as one of the youngest and/or black producers in the biz at 19. Man his music brings back all kinds of memories.

  • Awe, two more I forgot.

    Emerson, Lake and Palmer Seattle Center Coliseum 1977

    Fleetwood Mac (Coliseum ’77)

  • Chris Kent


    I will not lie to you, I’m not a big fan of Michael Jackson or Madonna. I sometimes wonder if artists of their type tend to have a lot of pomp and circumstance (dancing, production numbers, light shows) to cover up the fact they don’t actually play an instrument. At the same time, they ARE both icons, so to see them live would definitely be an event. My sister saw MJ during his pre-scandal days and said it was one of the best concerts she’d ever seen – but my sis rarely goes to concerts, God bless her. But I do respect her opinion.

    Atmosphere, instrument prowess, audience reaction, relevance, presence and, most important of all, energy are all factors I consider when watching a concert. I suppose we all look for different things. When Madonna tours again one day, and she will, I wouldn’t mind going to see her, though these days I rarely attend stadium concerts. If Michael Jackson ever tours again, which I doubt, I might go see him. It would be difficult though. He’s such a walking tragedy and it disturbs me whenever I see him on camera……I don’t know if I would want to put myself through that.

  • Chris Kent


    True Believers, Auditorium Shores in Austin, TX – 1985

    Chuck Berry, Nick’s Uptown in Dallas, TX – 1986

    Patti Smith, Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas, TX – 2000

  • Sandra Smallson

    As far as MJ, I always beg people to try and seperate the personal issues from the music. If MJ ever tours again, seems unlikely at this point, please try and put yourself through it. You won’t regret it:)

    As for Madonna, keep your ear sto the ground. There is allegedly an upcoming tour this year, named teh “Whore of Babylon” tour. Medleys of old and new. So, if it happens, go watch and you might return with a new found respect. You mightn’t. Still, I guarantee a great time:)

    As for you not being a fan of either, it’s your prerogative. Should I add that Madonna can play the drums and is becoming quite accomplished on the acoustic guitar?..LOL. Just kidding:) I understand. You would think for somebody who has loved any type of music where the Piano is the dominant instrument, I would love Norah Jones. I don’t. Her music makes me lose the will to live. I become suicidal:) Diff strokes for diff folks.

    You prefer musicians who play their own instruments, thats not a primary factor for me when selecting my fav songs or musicians. That’s the beauty of music. There is enough variety to go round.

  • Sandra Smallson

    “Atmosphere, instrument prowess, audience reaction, relevance, presence and, most important of all, energy are all factors I consider when watching a concert”

    All things you would get in excess in any MJ and Madonna concert except ofcourse the instrument prowess:) But, you’ve not seen energy till you go to an M concert. Drowned world tour, she entertained us with her own version of crouching tiger hidden dragon, flying all over the place while singing sky fits heaven..no easy task for the 42 yr old woman she was at the time. As for MJ, he IS a ball of energy..its fabulous entertainment.

    Geez. If only I was being paid. Mj and M can’t get better promotion than this:)

  • Chris Kent


    I’ll give Michael a call. He needs a really great PR person these days…..;)

    But I agree with what you are saying. We all go to concerts for different reasons. But if the performer is energetic and dedicated, why wouldn’t it be a great show no matter the type of music?

  • Eric Olsen

    Mark Saleski had a post like this, but I can’t find it. Where is that Mark?

    Springsteen playing for over 4 hours at the Akron Civic in ’74 when the forthcoming third album was still called Tenth Avenue Freezeout.

    Backstage bleacher seating for The Clash at the US Festival.

    Marshall Crenshaw at the Roxy or Whiskey (can’t remember) ’80/’81

    Los Lobos at Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland just last year.

    Pink Floyd on Animals tour, Cleveland Stadium.

    Roxy Music ’74, Allen Theater, Cleveland
    Bryan Ferry, ’77 (or so) with Chris Spedding and Phil Manzanera on guitars

    Stones Steel Wheels tour, ’89, LA Colosseum

    Preston Smith and the Crocodiles, Pasadena Country Club, private party ’85(?)

    There’s a handful.

  • Chris Kent

    Those all sound great Eric……

    I am ashamed to say I have never seen Bruce Springsteen or Los Lobos in concert. I hear their shows are fantastic…..concerts for the future….

  • is it the warmup bands post?

  • StuartP

    Thanks Eric. I was just gonna add Springsteen.

    Chris how can you enjoy an Elton concert and not enjoy a Prince concert because he sat behind a Piano? Dontcha tell me that Elton was dancing now boy? I know he was not.

    Sandra, Madonna can play the drums. I was in that 80’s scene in New York and she was a drummer. She can also play the acoustic guitar and is polishing up on the electric guitar because in her new concert she is playing the Passenger rock remix of Love Profusion. Were you really just joking or you know that she can?

    Did you not watch the Today show when she played Stairway to Heaven on her guitar for Matt Lauer and tried to teach him a few things?

    I bet you wonder how I know some of these things. Monty is a friend of mine. That should tell you it.

  • Chris Kent

    Mark, that’s a great post. Very interesting. I would have a hard time remembering warm-up acts……

  • Chris Kent


    The Prince concert was very, very lame….sorry. He only played a guitar once and was disinterested throughout the night. One of the worst concerts I’ve ever seen.

    Elton had far more respect for his audience. He was an energetic, natural player, and played a long, intense and thoroughly enjoyable set. It was a terrific night.

    Prince left us all wanting our money back……it was as if he really didn’t care…..

  • Eric Olsen

    Cool scene to be in Stuart, thanks!

    Mark, that was part of what I was thinking about, there must be yet another post about best concerts. Maybe it was the earlest concerts one?

    In totally keeping with the Dead’s modus operandi, in ’92 (?, the last tour with Jerry) we saw them three nights in a row at the Richfield Colosseum and they were utter magic one night, sucked eggs a second and were pretty good the third. Crazy!

    We saw Todd Rundgren and Utopia on Halloween ’77 in Dayton on acid. When he did the climbing the pyramid trick while wigging out a guitar solo, then jumped off of the pyramid backwards into the darkness, we thought it was the arrival of the apocalypse.

    Elvis Costello and the Attractions at the University of Cincy in about ’78 was awesome.

    Nine Inch Nails at the Phantasy, returning to Cleveland for the first time after Pretty Hate Machine came out, was about as intense a show as I’ve ever seen.

    The Cars at the old Agora in about ’76 was incredible, we were front row. Also saw Blondie open for Iggy Pop with Bowie playing piano and singing backup, front row at the old Columbus Agora in about ’77 or ’78.

  • Chris,

    Oh gosh! A True Believers fan. Me too! I promoted them in Santa Fe (’86 or’87) and they opened with ‘Hard Road’. Man, talk about being in a windtunnel of sound! Good sound. I also saw them in Albuquerque, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle that tour.

    Any word on Alejandro’s health? I know the Hep C has really disabled him.

    Also, I added Fleetwood Mac to my list (above). It was a case of no way wanting to see them ‘cuz I was a fan from the Peter Green years and could not stand the commercialized Fleetwood Mac. They tour with a sound system from Showco out of Dallas TX (same as ELP) and it made the Coliseum sound like some JBL’s in your living room. Best large hall sound system ever. And that was 1977! Haven’t heard a system sound so good, even in today’s modern age.

    Anyway, it brought out the virtuosity of the band. Even I had to admit it was a great show. If it is good, its good. It stands above pre-conceived attitudes. They did play “Oh Well” for us old timers. Only about 10% of the audience knew the deal on that one.

  • Sandra Smallson

    Stuart, I was not joking about whether she could play those instruments. I am well aware she is capable of playing the drums and I am also aware that she has become rather accomplished with the acoustic guitar. The joke was in my telling it to chris in a mock attempt to convince him to go watch M.

    Let me brag a bit since I’m just a tiny bit envious of what appears to be your insider connections;)..I was one of the 500 that got to see the HMV concert Oxford circus and half the set was with the guitar so you are telling me nothing new there. She screwed up on Mother&Father and almost turned the air blue frustrated with herself:)

    With regards to the electric guitar and the rock remix of Love Profusion..if true, thats just orgasmic news for me.I love the rock version and what a treat if M is going to be playing the guitar to that..I look forward to it.

    Monty is her guitarist/guitar tutor, am I right? I wonder nothing:)You may well be his friend. Good for you. I wouldn’t mind sharing a cocktail with Madonna and bitching about all sorts. We can all dream;) Thank you for the info especially if it’s true.

  • Chris Kent

    With regards to the electric guitar and the rock remix of Love Profusion..if true, thats just orgasmic news for me

    Sandra, like I’ve always said, “If it gives you an orgasm, then it’s good…..”

  • Chris Kent


    Haven’t heard much on Alejandro’s health, but then again I don’t live in Austin anymore either. Saw him at the Gypsy Tea Room here in Dallas about three years ago. It was an excellent show……I think he’s only been through Dallas once since then.

  • Chris, this was a cool post. You saw the clash!!! Every gig i’ve been too, incidentally, is pretty much one of my favourites, including the two jaunts to see Shane MacGowan. My fiancee, The Duchess, took me to see Ryan Adams for Christmas a year ago. It was amazing. He played pretty much everything on piano, with just a cello or somesuch for acomponiment. I also had the priveledge of seeing Dexys Midnight Runners last year, again, as a gift from The Duchess. We went to see Korn in Dublin, and even though i care little for their adolescent whining, i foun dthe gig to be incredibly good fun. Good for them.

  • Chris Kent

    Thanks El Senor Duke,

    I spent a long time on this and enjoyed putting it together. It brought back a lot of memories. I still catch live shows often, but rarely go see arena concerts. I prefer club concerts and small venues these days. One reason is it’s cheaper, another is most of the acts playing in arena’s I’ve already seen or am not interested in seeing….though I would pay to see David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Nine Inch Nails and The Ohio Players in a heartbeat – I was kidding about The Ohio Players, sort of, I think…..


    My favorite concerts (don’t know if it will be 10)

    1. The Mars Volta (w/ Saul Williams) at Numbers, Houston, TX 2003. This concert left me speechless. Unbelievable band and energy. If you haven’t heard them, pick up Tremulant EP and De-Loused in the Commatorium. Awesome….
    2. Nirvana at the Astro Arena, Houston TX 1993. I was in my early teens when I saw them live. Unforgettable.
    3. TOOL at The Summit Houston, TX 1996 or 7 (can’t remember exact year) I think they were touring to promote Anema. Very primal and hard hitting. Awesome imgaery on screens.
    4. Gypsy Kings (w/ Del Castillo) at the Woodlands Mitchell Pavillion Woodlands, TX 2003.
    5. Robert Randolph and The Family Band at the Woodlands during the Sprite MX Tour.
    6. The Roots at Numbers Houston, TX 2002

  • Chris Kent

    Great list BBOY GUEST,

    Is the Numbers location in Houston the same one that was open during the early 1980s? It’s been there a long time, right? I remember seeing Iggy Pop and Lords of the New Church there. Used to have a girlfriend who lived in Houston back in college days and we would see bands there every once in a while.

  • chris, just noticed the comments regarding sir M of J up above. i have been revisiting his stuff pre-dangerous, and have come to the conclusion that it was wonderful. I was but a child in my youth back when Bad was released, so it’s also something of a nostalgic excercise. Unlike most activities, tho, it turns out the effects REALLY WERE that good.
    Moonwalker can fuck right off tho

  • Chris Kent

    El Senor Duke,

    The myth of Michael Jackson will always be a part of musical pop/rock culture, but his legacy will always be tarnished by child molestation accusations. I don’t think a single music star in history has ever achieved the status Jackson did following his “Thriller” album. And his concerts during and after that time were reportedly amazing. As recently as a month ago I can remember being in a retro bar where they played 70s and 80s music, and when they played “Thriller,” the floor was at its most crowded. I think comparisons to Elvis are accurate, as towards the end of his career he had become a caricature of himself. Jackson has taken the caricature mask to an entirely new level. We look at him and he is a grotesque monster, and it is a tragedy. He is a perfect example of what life-long fame can do to a human with a fragile personality. Musically he’s lost, and emotionally he appears to be lost. I don’t see him ever being able to overcome the damage done to his career, mainly because of the very musical form he made his name in. He’s never tried to develop in other areas, and it’s too late now to even try…..

  • Eric Olsen

    excellent and thoughtful analysis in #39 Chris!

  • Shark

    Don’t get me started…

    1) Jimi Hendrix, Soft Machine, Moving Sidewalks – 1968
    2) Led Zepplin – Lewisville Pop Festival, Dallas, 1969 (about 1 a.m.)
    3) The Doors – Mardis Gras, Cowtown, summer 1967
    4) Blind Faith – San Antonio, 1969
    5) Cream, Dallas Conv Ctr., 1968
    7) Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Ft. Worth, 1972
    8) Steve Morse, Caravan of Dreams, 1996
    9) John McLaughlin, Caravan of Dreams, 1997
    10) k.d. lang, majestic theatre, dallas
    11) Phillip Glass ensemble accompanying “Beauty & the Beast” Cocteau film live, Dallas
    12) L. Shankar & Zakir Hussein – about 5 hours of jamming and I was the only non-Indian in the audience, UTA, Arlington TX 1998

    Honorable Mentions:

    Janis Joplin, Lewisville Pop Festival
    Stevie Ray Vaughn in a neighbor’s garage
    Natalie Maines singing “Steamroller” in a small local club
    The Byrds at Panther Hall, 1968
    Jefferson Airplane
    Sam & Dave
    Peter, Paul, & Mary
    Yes & Jethro Tull on the same bill
    Ella Fitzgerald w/Joe Pass
    Chet Atkins
    Miles Davis
    Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young

    oh… I could go on…

  • Shark

    Chris, are you too young to remember the love-in/jams at Lee Park (Dallas) every Sunday during mid-60s?

    Steve Miller band played there almost every week (his pre-fame days)

    What a blast! It was before the cops knew the difference between incense and potsmoke.


  • Chris Kent

    Thanks Eric!

    I should have known the great Shark would soon make an appearance to blow my legends out of the water. Hmpf…..

    Never-the-less, I was too young for the Lee Park hippie fests, though they are legend in Dallas (today, Lee Park is popular with the homosexual crowd, at night, etc….ah-hem)…..

    The Lewisville Pop Festival is legendary and am amazed you attended that. I have heard through the grapevine Joplin was so tanked she gave a terrible concert, and to be truthful, I did not know Led Zepplin played that Fest…..you sure you got your Fests straight you old pothead? If so, you saw them at one of the very earliest points in their career….I’m impressed a little…..

    Knew Steve Miller grew up in Dallas and if I had a dime for everytime someone claims to have seen him in a jam session around the neighborhood before he became famous, well hell, I’d be living uptown rather than downtown……

    Seeing The Byrds is impressive – where was Panther Hall? What part of Lewisville did that Pop Fest take place, was it at a race track out there?…..

    Impressive list Shark, with the exception of Yes and Jethro Tull….when I go to hell one day, I will be forced to watch Yes and Jethro Tull over, and over, and over again……Even on LSD, I couldn’t sit through that art rock shit fest……

  • Eric Olsen

    After much rooting around in my brain I have finally remembered my first concert, which was Deep Purple at Nelson’s Ledges in ’72. It seemed awesome at the time, but I really have no idea.

  • Chris Kent


    Deep Purple rocked in their day, though I never saw them in concert (saw Rainbow)…..I love their Live in Japan (is that right?) LP…..I still play “Highway Star” off of that album full blast when the mood strikes me…..

  • Chris Kent

    Deep Purple – Made in Japan…a great album….

  • OK, I just made my list here.


    For those who don’t want to click, it includes, Acid Bath, Counting Crows, Hum and Candiria.

  • OK, one show I forgot from ages ago that deserves notice (see comments #10, #17, etc.). Heart at the Paramount Theater (Seattle) in the mid 70s. They released this do it yourself album called Dreamboat Annie. Then they go tour the nation to sell it. On tour the record took off. So, they get home from tour as big rising stars. They play their hometown AND TORE IT UP!!!! Heavy duty rocknroll! Mass guitars. Nancy is quite good.

    They just put out a new album, paid for by themselves, etc. Very indy in approach. Lots of guitars, less keyboards, etc. These gals were heavy into Zeppelin. It’s all cool.


  • Chris Kent

    Heart rocked back in the 70s and I still listen to their Little Queen album. A great band back in their day. Their concert at the Texas Jamm at The Cotton Bowl around 1978 was a classic. I was very drunk and don’t remember much as they were one of the last acts (they played with Aerosmith and Ted Nugent that day)……

  • Donn

    The mention of Lee Park caught my attention. I’ve been looking for some of the old regulars from the late 60’s to early 70’s, particularly any who might have been there around the massacre timeframe. Names like Leaf & Kitten, Napolean, Quentin, Milo, Christian, Suzy Creamcheese, Pregnant Larry, Blue, Gopher, George & Larry, Zephyr, Mrs. Stone and daughter Liz with friends Sherry, Linda and Barbara, Tiny, Red-headed Bill, etc. Anyone know any of these please let me know. We’re planning a reunion.

  • Chris Kent


    This past week on radio station 92.5 FM in the Dallas-Fort Worth area they have been having flashback music. One day was devoted entirely to songs from 1968, another day 1969, yet another 1970. I believe today they are doing 1973. In between songs, people have been calling in and discussing the hippie days of Lee Park. I was in first grade in 1970, so it was not My Generation (couldn’t resist).

    Shark (within this room) is from Fort Worth and claims to have been around during those storied days of Lee Park and even Trinity Park (please see Comment 41 & 42). He might have some leads, though he is a lot of bluster. The DJs from 92.5 have some connections and leads to, as those flashback songs have a lot of people calling in and reminiscing. Give the station a call.

    Good luck and rock on baby! Peace, love and whatever else……

  • Oh, to add to my list (see comment #10) is African-Reggae artist LUCKY DUBE. Once at the Moore Theater in Seattle, then at the Ballard Firehouse in town. Both shows very amazing. Saw him again a few years ago, performance was quite good but not amazing. Gee whiz, for an off night, he still was better than most.


  • Chris Kent

    Names like Leaf & Kitten, Napolean, Quentin, Milo, Christian, Suzy Creamcheese, Pregnant Larry, Blue, Gopher, George & Larry, Zephyr, Mrs. Stone and daughter Liz with friends Sherry, Linda and Barbara, Tiny, Red-headed Bill, etc.

    I’m still freaking out on these names…….talk about blast from the past……

  • Gary

    October 31, 1981…what a RAIN that was but WHAT A FABULOUS CONCERT!!! I have never been so soaked, and we had to park miles away from the fair grounds!

    Fabulous Thunderbirds…ZZ Top…Rolling Stones…

    It was great to be there. Times were simpler then. It was all about the music.

    Best wishes,

  • John Battles

    Dear Nick , as it happens , I was at a couple of the shows on your list. I wholeheartedly agree , The Clash show at The Bronco Bowl was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I saw The Stones at The Cotton Bowl the day after you saw ’em. It was great , for the most part , but I think the monitors were scorched from the thunderstorm. Always wanted to see one of their smaller venue shows (Blew my chance in Ft. Worth ’78 , tho’ I was in the ticket line , and twice , here.). I’m only starting to appreciate that period again , tho’ their latest album , I think , is their best since “Some Girls”. I enjoyed the other reviews , tho ‘ several were for bands I’m not crazy about. It’s just me , no criticism intended. I dearly missed X AT tHE hOT kLUB , And , before that , at Zero’s in Ft. Worth. I finally got to see their two night stand at Nick’s Uptown , last week in ’83. They were still great ( A LITTLE off the cuff , tho’) , but , the Hell of it is , they’re better , NOW. mY FAVE SHOWS , IN NO SPECIAL ORDER , INCLUDE , BUT ARE’NT LIMITED TO:

    1. Muddy Waters , Chicagofest , 1979. (Blues Bros. did a surprise set of about a half – dozen songs.

    2. The Clash , Bronco Bowl , June ’82. If no one else pointed out , The Clash did continue touring , doing several festivals and a stretch with The Who , until Mick Jones split , after which the (Repotedly good) revamped band kept the name going into the mid – ’80’s. Eventually , a “busking” version of the group , Simonon being the sole original member , toured small venues doing acoustic versions of Clash songs.

    3. Roky Erickson , Texas Music Awards Show , Austin , 1993. Four songs. One head on the ceiling. Mine.

    4.The Cramps , Cabaret Metro , Cicago , 1996. The Cramps are always great , live , but this night was special , as they were’nt promoting anything , so , they did what the Hell they felt like , inc. opening with “I’m Five Years Ahead Of My Time”!

    5. Chuck Berry – St. Louis , Oct. 2001 . Most of you won’t believe me , but this show renewed my faith in Rock’n’Roll. It was Chuck’s 75th Birthday , and he was in champion form , with a strong backing band that featured his son , Charles , on second guitar , and Bob Kuban (‘The Cheater” ) on drums.

    6. Johnny Cash – Cubby Bear , Chicago (’90?) . Up close and personal. Gave me the chills. He’d just done a two and a half hour show , then followed it with this , a nearly three hour set.

    7. Roy Orbison – Riviera , Chicago , 1988. This would turn out to be Roy’s last ever live show in Chicago. His voice , of course , was positively stellar , and his stage manner affable , even honoring my request for “Ooby Dooby” on the spot , without hesitation.

    8. Troggs NYC , 2000 . tHE RIDICULOUSLY UNDERRATED POWERHOUSE COMBO STILL DELIVERS THE GOODS TODAY. Britain should be proud to have ’em , but , man , they shoulda been ours!

    9. Stooges , Clarkston , Michigan , 2003(?). If you’re to cool to care , you don’t deserve my sympathy.

    10. The Who , Reunion Arena , Dallas , 1980

    OK , Keith Moon was dead by then. If you got to see him , consider yourself fortunate. But…What’s Kenny Jones? Chopped liver?! I thought he did a great job holding down the fort without mimicking Moon. Plus , they were’nt promoting a new album , a plus.

    Best triple bill: Iggy Pop , Ramones , Dickies , Arcadia , Chicago , 1988.
    Best reunion gigs (Include) The Creation , Third Bardo , Buzzcocks , Standells , Arthur Lee and Love , ? and The Mysterians , monks , Downliners Sect (Not exactly a reunion) , Pretty Things , Iron Butterfly , Electric Prunes and ZOLAR – X .

    wORST LIVE ACTS i’VE SEEN : Stickmen with Rayguns (Any gig , Dallas , exc. maybe the last time I saw them. They were OK.)tHE mAKERS , tUSCALOOSA , aLabama (’93 0r ’94).

  • Chris Kent

    An excellent list John. You’ve seen some great music. Thank you.

  • Orange

    I was at the Texas Pop Festival and saw Sam & Dave. They were probably good, but the acoustics of course weren’t. Janis was allegedly there later that night, but I had to go home. The TPF was at a location that later was a racetrack and now is across I35 and north a little from Vista Ridge Mall. Panther Hall was in Ft. Worth, I think.

  • Greg Giddings

    Interesting list–I was actually at three of those shows: the Stones, Cheap Trick, and the Clash. Of the three, I was most surprised at Cheap Trick. I had seen them in Fort Worth only months before, and they were terrible. While the Texas Jam show was “tight,” as you said, the earlier show in Cowtown was self-indulgent and virtually as bad as anything I have seen.

    The Stones were great that Halloween day; even ZZ Top was wonderful as an opener.

    I was also at the Bronco Bowl Clash show. Everything you said is true, except that this was not the last time the band toured. The Clash came back through Texas on the way to the US Festival shortly after. They played Wichita Falls (where I saw them from the front row), Laredo, and (I think) Lubbock or El Paso. They got the idea to play small places from Joe Ely.

    Finally, I saw X, but at Nick’s Uptown, maybe a year or so after the show you saw. And they were indeed amazingly good.

    Coincidentally, my wife attended the Tears For Fears show you mentioned. I know this because she missed a much more important show that night: Bruce Springsteen played Dallas the same evening.

  • Nadine Messer

    I have a linen banner of the Rolling Stones tour of 1981.It is pink, The logo is that of a Chinese Dragon. Could you give me some insight on the worth and some way to reserch the background. It is in very good condition

    Thank You
    Nadine Messer

  • OK, here I go again. Since Nadine (#59) activated this thread again, I saw White Stripes in Portland, OR a couple of summers ago. VERY GOOD. In above comments you may have read my criteria. This one met the standards.

    Very refreshing considering concert sound and performance is pretty crappy in this so-called modern age of technology outhinking the question. The Stripes got to the point on this show. Great ‘theater’ of performance as well….


  • Seen a lot of great concerts back in the day. Aerosmith at the Troubadour, Weather Report on the Midnight Special, Dexter Gordon at the Lighthouse,King Crimson at the Shrine, Robert Fripp at the Madame Wong’s, Clash at the Palladium, Iggy at the Palladium, but the one that will always take the cake was Genesis at the Roxy December 1972. Never before or since was a moment in rock music more significant in the realm of human possibility.

  • Rusty Thomas

    Farout Man! Went to St. Louis this weekend 7/2/11. Beneath the Arch there was a free concert. Steve Miller Band. The guy still rocks and sounds great. Memories, took me back to about 68 or 69 hangin in Lee Park (Dallas) as usual in those days. There was a band playing at the pavilian. Them guys waz great. After serveral songs the leader stepped up to the mic and introduced the band . . . “We’re the Steve Miller Band”
    Lots of wonderful (blurred with colorful patterns) memories at Lee Park.

  • liam

    what a load of shit queen at wembley 1986 was the all time best concert !!!!!